Wyoming Community Mourns Firefighters' Deaths

Thinking that children might be trapped inside, volunteer firefighters Jacob Cook and Robert Henderson rushed in to a burning town house. Their bravery cost them their lives.


EVANSTON, Wyo. (AP) -- Thinking that children might be trapped inside, volunteer firefighters Jacob Cook and Robert Henderson rushed in to a burning town house. Their bravery cost them their lives.

Cook, 23, and Henderson, 39, died Monday from injuries they suffered in an explosion inside the home.

''We've lost two brothers,'' said Randy Chandler, one of several fellow firefighters who stopped by a makeshift memorial that had sprung up outside the fire department.

The men went inside the town house when bystanders told them children might be inside. As it turned out, all the occupants had safely escaped.

The cause of the explosion, which injured three other firefighters, remains unknown.

Cook, who had been married only a few weeks, and Henderson, a married father of three, were the first firefighters killed on duty in Wyoming since 2003, when 16-year-old volunteer Anndee Huber died in a fire truck accident.

Wednesday, all across town, flags remained at half-staff. Businesses had put out donation cans for the families of the dead firefighters. Evanston, population 11,500, lies about 80 miles northeast of Salt Lake City in extreme southwest Wyoming.

Friends and fellow firefighters remembered Cook and Henderson as loyal public servants, outdoor lovers and dedicated family men.

Cook had been a volunteer firefighter since February 2003 and was determined to learn more about his avocation, his colleagues said. The rail car repairman had recently tested for his second round of firefighting certification.

''He was a young guy, had a young family,'' said Don Casper, an emergency medical technician who tried to revive Cook on the way to the hospital. ''Very dedicated, loved emergency services _ absolutely loved it. Lived for it, in fact.''

Henderson, a tank sergeant in the first Gulf War and a volunteer firefighter since 1994, was a maintenance worker at the Post Office.

Ellen Menke, a family friend, said Henderson often took his sons, 12 and 8, hunting and ice fishing. She said he helped with their soccer teams and Boy Scout activities.

''He was very involved in his kids' life,'' she said.


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