Texas Firefighter Recalls Mistakes in Close Call

Fort Worth Fire Capt. Larry Manasco is quick to take responsibility for the mistakes he made during a call early last year in which he and six of his colleagues became trapped.

It took seven minutes until dispatch was able to get the message to the commanding officer at the Avenue A fire.

Under the pile of debris, things continued to become more dire.

"No, no, no," he thought to himself.

"I thought it was going to press down flat and kill us."

He was somehow able to knock down more fire with a nearby nozzle and began pressing up on the roof.

"I thought I was going to die," he said. "I was thinking, "Good job, you just killed all of your guys."

He heard Capt. Mark Rhodes yell "Everbody calm down." They weren't loud, but Manasco said they were like fish out of water.

Rhodes became free and began to help his fellow firefighters escape from the debris.

"I was tired," he said. "I remember thinking, I just need a break."

A fellow firefighter pulled him to safety.

"I don't know if I could have made it any further than that," he said. "I will forever love Rick McKinney."

All seven firefighters exited the structure and an ambulance transported him to the hospital for a shoulder injury.

"When we came out of there, our gear was smoking," he said, adding that the thermal lining in their jackets had turned black. "There was a tremendous amount of heat inside there."

Once they were out, firefighters continued to knock down the fire from the outside.

Now, more than a year after responding to that fire, Manasco hopes that his department has learned from it and that other firefighters around the country can as well.

"There were just so many red flags that went up that day. So many mistakes were made; I hope we learned from them."