By Paul Hemmer
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS January 16, 2001 - The White Sulphur Springs Fire Department was dispatched to a structure fire at the Barry Klein residence on Fox Mountain Road around noon this past Friday.
Arriving at the scene, White Sulphur Springs Fire Chief Jim Austin found the barn which houses Kleins logging business directly behind his home to be engulfed in flames.
When I got here, the whole building was fully involved, Austin said. I called a second alarm from my department and for tankers from Liberty, Swan Lake and Youngsville.
Terry Wilson and Adam Turk, who work for Klein, were just pulling out of the driveway when they noticed the building was on fire.
As we were leaving, I heard a loud pop and turned back to see smoke coming out of the building, Turk said. I opened the door, and the whole building was full of smoke.
Wilson and Turk managed to remove a loader from the burning structure, but during the course of making another attempt to save some of the equipment inside, Wilson fell, possibly fracturing his ribs. Due to the dense smoke, he succumbed to smoke inhalation as well.
The Town of Liberty Volunteer Ambulance Corps transported him to Harris Hospital, where he was treated and released.
As the scene unfolded, White Sulphur Springs pumper set up the initial attack while their tanker set up for a fold-a-tank operation. Firefighters extended 1 3/4-inch hand lines and advanced water streams into the front and side doors of the burning structure.
Meanwhile, additional lines were trained on the Klein residence, which was only around 60 feet from the inferno.
Due to the intensity of the flames and close proximity of the Klein home, several firefighters searched the interior attic for possible fire.
The house was smoking pretty good, Austin said. We had the hose team spray the exterior while a couple of guys checked the attic for any signs of fire.
According to Chief Austin, some 50 firefighters brought the fire under control in about 30 minutes. Assisting at the scene were Liberty, Swan Lake and Youngsville. Liberty Fire Department stood by with one pumper at the White Sulphur Springs Fire Station, and The Town of Liberty Volunteer Ambulance Corps stood by at the scene.
According to Chief Austin, the cause of the fire is under investigation, and no determination has been made. Due to extensive damage, which left only the framework of the barn standing, what remained was knocked down for safety reasons.
Barry Klein, the owner of the property, arrived during the course of the firefighting operations only to find little left of the building that housed his logging equipment.
Visibly shaken, Klein could only comment, Everything I owned was in there.