Fire crews in Guadalupe County recently responded to a blaze with heroic efforts, but unfortunately due to the injuries a woman sustained in the inferno, those efforts were not enough to save her.
A 50-year-old New Braunfels woman died as a result of injuries sustained in a fire at her home, Patrick Pinder, Guadalupe County’s fire marshal and emergency manager said. Crews, including his assistant fire marshal, rushed to the house and pulled the woman out to get her to a hospital and give her a fighting chance, Pinder said.
“The medical examiners office called me this morning,” he said on Tuesday. “She didn’t make it.”
Dispatchers received the call for a structure fire about 10 p.m. Sunday in the 200 block of Enchantment Lane, Pinder said. Guadalupe County Assistant Fire Marshal Bryce Houlton was first to arrive at the trailer, and he sprang into action, Pinder said.
Houlton began rescue efforts, located the room where the woman reportedly was, grabbed equipment out of his vehicle and began ripping a hole in the wall. A by-stander helped Houlton hack away at the wall, then other first responders began arriving and also assisted, Pinder said.
Neighbors helped him figure out where to begin rescue efforts, Houlton said.
“People outside knew what room she was in,” he said
They pointed him to the room and Houlton tried to open a window but it wouldn’t budge, he said. He knew he had to get to the woman somehow, Houlton said.
Houlton went to his pickup truck where he knew he had an ax and a halligan tool, he said.
“I grabbed that, went back to the house,” Houlton said. “I handed my halligan tool to a young man and I told him, ‘Let’s start swinging. Let’s get into this house and lets get her out.’”
The pair began chopping and tugging away at the side of the trailer. They opened a hole and tried to make it larger.
Houlton reached inside the two-foot-by-two-foot hole and could see the woman on the floor. He tried pulling her out but wasn’t able to get her to budge. He moved debris off the woman and furiously worked to reach her.
“I was doing my job,” Houlton said. “My number one goal when I got there was to get her out the house. That’s all I cared about was getting her out the house.”
A lot of people were in the right place at the right time to help pull the woman to safety and begin life-saving measures, he said.
Firefighters with the Lake Dunlap Volunteer Fire Department arrived and gave Houlton a chainsaw to enlarge the hole in the side of the trailer, he said. Lake Dunlap’s Assistant Chief Tyler Townsend rushed over with a self contained breathing mask, Houlton said.
Houlton, Townsend, Guadalupe County Sheriff’s Office deputies and anyone around reached in and were able to pull the woman from the structure, Houlton said. The woman had no pulse so he began performing CPR on her, Houlton said.
A McQueeney Volunteer Fire Department fireman relieved Houlton on CPR duties until a New Braunfels EMS ambulance crew arrived and whisked the woman to Resolute Health Hospital in New Braunfels.
From there, emergency crews took the woman to San Antonio Military Medical Center, Pinder said. He said he had no information on her exact cause of death, only that medical examiners told him she died Tuesday.
Crews from fire departments in Lake Dunlap, Marion, McQueeney and New Braunfels helped on the call. The trailer was a total loss from the fire, Townsend said.
Flames reignited at the scene about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday and crews had to extinguish them as well as any hot spots, Pinder said.
The fire remains under investigation but is believed to have started in a shed adjacent to the trailer, he said. No cause has been determined but it doesn’t appear suspicious, Pinder said.
Area fire responders fought hard together in an attempt to save the woman and the home, he said.
“The fire marshals office would like to thank all fire departments that responded to the fire on Sunday night. Because of their efforts in arriving in a timely manner and extinguishing the fire, the fire crews were successful in removing the victim from the home,” Pinder said. “Without the cooperation of the fire departments in the area, Guadalupe County would not be able to continue the fire service we do with the fire departments we have.”