‘Courageous’ Texas Fire Chief Dies While Fighting House Fire – One America News Network

(L) Fritch Fire Chief Zeb Smith. (Photo via: City of Borger / Hutchinson County OEM) / (R) (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

OAN’s Brooke Mallory
5:46 PM – Wednesday, March 6, 2024

While responding to a house fire on Tuesday, the fire chief for a small community in the Texas Panhandle, where massive wildfires have been raging, sadly passed away on duty, according to officials.


According to a representative for the Hutchinson County Office of Emergency Management, Fritch Fire Chief Zeb Smith never walked back out of the burning home after courageously rushing inside to look for anyone in need of rescue while responding to the incident at around seven in the morning.

Officials say that Smith quickly arrived at the scene of the fire in the Texas town of about 1,800 people.

At approximately 7:30 a.m., a rapid response team discovered his body inside the house, according to Brandon Strope, a spokesman for the emergency management office, during a press conference.

Authorities say that they are “not exactly sure what transpired inside the home” and why Smith was not able to get out in time.

“This structure fire was not directly related to the ongoing wildfires,” Strope said, referring to the current media-reported wildfires 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,” he continued. “So, I think we all can say with pretty good certainty that it did have a role in today’s unfortunate incident.”

The top executive of the county’s government, Hutchinson County Judge Cindy Irwin, described Smith as a courageous and devoted public servant who was committed to ensuring the community’s safety.

“It was his dedication to this duty that ultimately led to his death,” she 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.”

Hutchinson County is also the area of the infamous ongoing Smokehouse Creek Fire, which started last week and is currently the biggest wildfire in the state’s history.

According to officials, two individuals have perished in the flames in the Panhandle.

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Brooke Mallory
Author: Brooke Mallory

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