Texas Firefighter Killed in Blaze

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July 04--A Wharton firefighter died Saturday night while battling a massive blaze at an egg farm just outside of Boling that took more than 150 firefighters all night to put out.

Thomas Araguz III, 30, recently had been promoted to captain at the Wharton Fire Department and leaves behind a wife and two young sons, said Jay Evans, deputy state fire marshal.

From Wharton and known throughout the community, Araguz had been with the department for 11 years.

"He was highly thought of, and he was a responsible firefighter," Evans said.

More than 150 firefighters from 31 departments fought the blaze, which broke out around 9:30 p.m. Saturday at the Maxim Production Co., an egg farm in the 3300 block of FM 442, about 11 miles east of Wharton and three miles from Boling, Evans said.

They had the fire under control around 6:30 a.m. Sunday.

Fire roared through the 25,000-square-foot processing operation, in a 250-foot-long building, and was fueled by huge fans used to cool the poultry, which died.

Evans said Araguz and two other firefighters, challenged by heavy smoke and worsening conditions, started retreating from the building, but Araguz became trapped and did not make it out.

Intense heat kept firefighters from entering the building to save Araguz, whose body was discovered about 7:20 a.m. Sunday.

Evans said the cause of the blaze remained unkown.

paige.hewitt@chron.com

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