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Second Bryan firefighter dies after roof of burning building collapses

Second Bryan firefighter dies after roof of burning building collapses

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Bryan firefighter killed, three injured when roof collapses

Two Bryan firefighters died and two others injured after a blaze late Friday when the roof of a building collapsed after catching fire.

Lt. Eric Wallace, a 36-year-old father of five and 13-year veteran of the department, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Lt. Gregory Pickard, 54, died at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston on Saturday.

Firefighter Ricky D. Mantey Jr., 30, and probationary firefighter Mitchel Moran, 21, are reportedly in serious but stable condition and being treated for burns at the Galveston hospital.

A candlelight vigil is planned Sunday at Merrill Green Stadium at Bryan High School. Gates open at 6:30 p.m. and the service starts at 7:30 p.m.

Bryan Fire Department officials said the fire — reported by a passerby at 11:20 p.m. — was at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 1500 Groesbeck St.  College Station fire crews also responded to the blaze at the one-story building.

Bryan Fire Chief Randy McGregor said in a 6 a.m. press conference that the State Fire Marshal’s Office will investigate in conjunction with the Bryan Fire Marshall's Office and police department.

“There are no words to express our grief at the loss of Eric and our concern for Greg, Ricky and Mitch, and their families," McGregor said. "These four courageous individuals represent the best of the profession and are true heroes in every sense of the word. “

McGregor said Wallace was one of the first two to arrive at the fire and once inside, the pair radioed that they were low on air and needed assistance. They were ordered to evacuate the building, McGregor said.

Wallace remained inside the building, according to McGregor, who said the fire department sent in a team composed of Pickard, Mantey and Moran to rescue Wallace. A second team then went in to assist the first team, the chief said.

Bryan Fire Marshall William Bouse said the cause of the fire remained under investigation. He said officials will examine "every inch" of the building, diagram the scene and look for burn patters.

"It's one thing to go through a building to look for a cause — it's another when one of our own has died in the line of duty," Bouse said.

The last known people inside the building include the hall manager for the Knights of Columbus and a family that was decorating the venue for a Quinceanera scheduled for Saturday. Members of the Knights of Columbus told officials that nothing appeared out of the ordinary when they left about 9:45 p.m. and that none of the decorations needed electricity.

Wallace is survived by his wife, Brandi, and five children. Visitation will be Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m. at Adams Funeral Home in Marlin. His funeral service has been set for Thursday at 10 a.m. at First Baptist Church of Bryan with a funeral procession immediately following. Burial will be at the Hillcrest Cemetery in Marlin.

Pickard has served with the department for 32 years. Mantey had been with the department for five years, and Moran for 10 months.

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