Miss. Firefighter Injured, Equipment Looked At

CANTON, Miss. --

A Canton firefighter was hospitalized, and equipment failure may be to blame, a state fire official said.

Three firefighters were injured Wednesday afternoon while battling a fire at 380 N. West St., in Canton, said State Fire Marshal's Office Investigator Jimmy Jackson. The injuries to two of the firefighters were relatively minor -- one had a twisted ankle and the other minor cuts and scrapes, Jackson said.

But the third firefighter, Daniel Watkins, 28, fell inside the burning house and was unconscious, Jackson said. He was burned on his face and chest and suffered smoke inhalation, fire officials said. Watkins remained Friday in the intensive care unit at Baptist Hospital.

A viewer sent an email to WAPT News that said equipment failure may be to blame for Watkins' injuries. But when WAPT asked Canton Fire Chief Andrew Hughes about the possibility, he said he knew nothing about it.

"Everybody is putting out rumors on what they speculate it could be," he said. "That's why we want to wait until we do a thorough investigation to find out what really happened."

But Jackson confirmed that the State Fire Marshal's Office is looking at equipment failure as a factor in Watkins' injuries.

"Right now we are looking at possible equipment failure," Jackson said. "You have to realize how amazingly hot in was in that room as he fought that fire. He was in full turnout gear and anyone in those conditions will quickly become dehydrated and can be overcome."

Jackson said the firefighters followed proper procedures in attacking and fighting the fire, which investigators believe was electrical in origin.

"They followed sound (National Fire Protection Association) training and procedures as they were trained to do," he said. "Their entrance and attack procedures were fine. There are inherent dangers in fighting fires, and sometimes you can do everything right and still get injured."

Hughes said the Fire Department is hoping for Watkins' speedy recovery.

"It's just like one of my children. We're all a big family here, so to have one of your children hurt or one of your firefighters hurt, it took a toll on me," Hughes said.

Watkins' wife said she is thankful for the community support and prayers. She said her husband is resting, doing well and will recover.

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