Firefighter escapes injury when roof collapses

LAKE WALES -- A Lake Wales firefighter escaped injury Thursday evening when the roof of a burning house partially collapsed on him.

Travis O'Bryant was part of a team who was inside the house at 2243 Bouyer St. Firefighters came on the scene shortly after 8 p.m., and O'Bryant was on the team who entered the house.

O'Bryant, who was wearing complete bunker gear and carrying an air tank, "got hit by the roof," according to firefighter Dean Copson. With Lt. Perry Daughtry trailing him, O'Bryant was pulled out of danger. Uninjured by the errant roof, O'Bryant was able to remain on duty.

Copson said the roof was tar and gravel on the concrete block and wood frame house. Fire officials said the cause of the fire remained under investigation Friday, although a fire report stated a short circuit may have figured into the cause. The fire reportedly started in the house's dining area.

Upon arrival, firefighters found the structure "partially involved," and the crew had to use tools to work their way in through the locked door.

In combating the blaze, firefighters used FAST, or Firefighters Assist and Search Team. Copson said this allows two firefighters to stay on the outside of a burning structure to act as a safety team, as others composed the interior attack crew.

FAST members are equipped with extra air bottles and tools that can be used to help those inside.

He said this safety feature works along with the "two-in, two-out" rule that was adopted last April. This means two firefighters are required to stay outside as two others go fight the fire from inside.

If a "Mayday" mode is used, it means there's a firefighter trapped inside or a victim was found and firefighters from outside send in help.

No one was at home at the time of the fire. Fire officials said the home was occupied by Shirley Goosby.

The fire caused an estimated $40,000 loss.