Texas Fire Chief Passes Away While Fighting House Fire

A fire chief in Texas recently passed away tragically while responding to a house fire in a small community in the Texas Panhandle.

A representative for the Hutchinson County Office of Emergency Management said that Fritch Fire Chief Zeb Smith never came out of the burning home after rushing inside to look for individuals trapped by the fire.

Smith reportedly arrived at the scene quickly, according to officials. The town where the incident occurred reportedly has about 1,800 residents.

At around 7:30 a.m., Smith’s body was found inside the burning house, according to a spokesman for the emergency management office, Brandon Strope.

It is unknown what happened to Smith while he was inside the home and why the former Texas fire chief could not leave in time.

“This structure fire was not directly related to the ongoing wildfires,” Strope said during a press conference, referring to the recent wildfires that have occurred in the state.

“However, I would be remiss if I did not say that Chief Smith, along with every other volunteer firefighter in this county and in his department, has responded for the last nine days actively fighting these fires,” Strope added. “So, I think we all can say with pretty good certainty that it did have a role in today’s unfortunate incident.”

Officials said that Smith and other volunteer firefighters in the area were responding to wildfires that have ravaged the small town for several days. It is said that Smith’s continuous response to the blazes “certainly” played a role in his death.

“Him and his team were out every day, most nights, got very little sleep and just selflessly went out and did everything they could to save their community and keep us intact,” Strope said.

Hutchinson County Judge Cindy Irwin said Smith was a courageous and devoted public servant who worked tirelessly to ensure the community was safe.

“It was his dedication to this duty that ultimately led to his death,” Irwin said. “Just as we’ve come together as a community to support one another during these wildfires, we’ll continue to support the family of Chief Smith.”

One America News pointed out that Hutchinson County is the area of the ongoing Smokehouse Creek Fire, which began recently and is currently the largest wildfire in Texas history.