Texas Tragedy: "The Ground Shook in West, Texas"

On April 17, the ground shook in West, Texas. It collapsed buildings and broke hearts.” That’s what a solemn Chief Ron Siarnicki, executive director of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF), told more than 10,000 people at a...


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DOUG SNOKHOUS

A captain with West Fire Department, Doug was usually one of the first to arrive on the scene. He mentored younger firefighters. People said they remembered when they saw him, his brother Robert, who also died, was usually nearby. Relatives said while it may sound strange, they are glad the brothers died together. It was something they would have wanted.

ROBERT SNOKHOUS

A captain with the West Fire Department like his brother, he was a hero even before he was killed in the plant blast. “Robert repeatedly demonstrated his dedication and commitment – and most certainly, his bravery,” said his step-daughter, McKenzie Ryan.

Two others who died that night on the front line were not fire department members, but were named honorary firefighters.

 

Buck Uptmor was a cowboy who had just rounded up horses in a nearby field and didn’t think twice when he was called to grab a line.

 

Jimmy Matus, who as a welder helped build West’s apparatus, also ran to join the others – without hesitation. n