— By JOEL KERTOK | Parker County Public Information Officer
PARKER COUNTY – Those employed in emergency response know the job does not come with normal business hours; in fact night calls are just a regular part of the business.
Yet for Parker County Assistant Fire Marshal Frank Watson, Monday night ended up as anything but regular.
He and his wife had put their son to bed and were getting ready for bed themselves when Watson said his phone started ringing.
It was ESD 6 Station 44 Battalion Chief Doug Walters, telling Watson of a fire.
“I received the call from Chief Walters at 10:29 p.m.,” Watson said. “I was told that the fire department had just been toned out and the caller reporting the fire said she was trapped in her bedroom.”
Watson said he happened to know the woman, Terri Wood, and knew her to be visually impaired. He said he grabbed his keys and quickly made his way to the home, located off Tin Top Road south of Weatherford.
He said upon arrival the first thing he noticed was heavy smoke escaping from the home and a woman sticking her head out the window yelling for help. He called in his arrival to dispatch.
“It was a manufactured house so it was a distance of at least six feet from the bottom of the window to the ground,” Watson said. “I could see that there were no flames in her bedroom, just very heavy smoke. I ran to the front door of the house and checked the door for heat. I made the determination that there was not fire at the door.”
Watson said upon opening the door he could see nothing but smoke. He took a deep breath of the clean outside air and got low and hurried towards the woman’s bedroom, feeling for the door.
“You could not see six inches in front of your face and you could feel the heat from the fire, which was in the kitchen,” he said. “I got to her and told her to get a deep breath while she was leaning her head out the window. I quickly started guiding her from the bedroom towards the front door. As we made our way into the living room she became overwhelmed by the smoke and began coughing uncontrollably.”
At that point Watson had to grab the woman under her shoulders and pull her out the front door.
Watson, being a certified peace officer, firefighter and EMT quickly took an assessment of Wood’s health and took her vitals. Her smoke inhalation was alleviated with oxygen that he had in his emergency vehicle.
While Watson was treating Wood, ESD 6 firefighters made the scene and put the fire out, saving the home by limiting the fire damage to the kitchen.
Wood said she was blessed.
“I am very grateful to Frank,” she said, adding that it was “a blessing” that he was able to get to her as quickly as he did.
Parker County Fire Marshal Shawn Scott said risking a life to save a life is just part of the business.
“I am extremely proud of the effort put forth by Frank,” Scott said. “We are here to serve and protect. I am glad he was there to do it and that nobody was severely injured.”
Watson said the cause of the fire was determined to be the result of a stove being left on.
“It really was a team effort because as I was busy helping the home owner the firefighters were able to get in there and put out the fire,” Watson said. “I believe we were just minutes away from fire spreading throughout the house. Thankfully they were able to contain it to the stove, oven and vent-a-hood.”
Watson stuck around as firefighters worked until just after 1 a.m. Tuesday venting the smoke from the house and making sure it was safe for Wood to re-enter.