Texas Fire Chief Burned

A volunteer firefighter was burned Sunday while fighting a grass fire in Mills County.

David Howard, chief of the Zephyr Volunteer Fire Department, suffered second degree burns on his face and arms, after a wall of fire overtook the truck he was driving.

The fire caused the truck engine to stall and all four tires were completely burned, explained David Schwartz, chief of the Goldthwaite Volunteer Fire Department. Howard had just taken off his protective gear to give to another firefighter because "he was driving," Schwartz explained.

Other firefighters saw Howard walking away from the area, knew he was injured and called 911. He was taken to Brownwood Regional Medical Center where he was listed in fair condition Monday.

Brownwood Fire Marshal Buddy Preston, former Zephyr fire chief, said Howard was moved to the burn center at Parkland Hospital in Dallas Monday.

"He was moved in an effort to stave off any infection," Preston said.

Two other firefighters, who were wearing their gear, escaped unharmed. Howard has been a volunteer fireman in Zephyr for more than 20 years.

Zephyr and Goldthwaite were among the five volunteer departments that assisted with the brush fire that charred 500 acres about three miles inside the Mills County line Sunday. Firefighters reported battling a "wall of flames that reached eight feet in the air."

The fire started around 3:30 p.m. on County Road 191 in Mills County, while a resident there was burning trash.

Last Monday, Mills County commissioners lifted the burn ban temporarily so rural residents could burn trash, Schwartz said.

High, gusty winds and dry grass about three feet tall fueled the fire, causing it to spread quickly.

It took firefighters until 6:45 p.m. to put out the blaze. Firefighters reported the fire did no damage to any structures in the area.

A total of 40 firefighters from volunteer departments that include Goldthwaite, Zephyr, Mullin, Priddy and Early assisted.

An account has been set up at Mid-Tex Federal Credit Union in Brownwood to cover medical and travel expenses for the Howard family. Howard is married and has two children. To make a donation to Howard's medical fund, contact Preston at (325) 646-8204.

Republished with permission from The Reporter News