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UPDATE: Captain Thomas Araguz III killed during 4-alarm fire at egg plant in Boling, Texas.

Click the image above for raw video over the scene from KHOU-TV.

Wharton Fire Department

Firefighter Close Calls

A press briefing is scheduled around 3:00 this afternooon (local time) in Wharton, Texas to discuss the death of Wharton Fire Department Captain Thomas Araguz III during a fire at an egg farm and plant in Boling. The fire was reported at 9:41 last night to the Wharton Police Department by an employee of Maxim Production Company.

According to news reports Captain Araguz and two other firefighters made entry into the building and became trapped due to increasing fire conditions. The two firefighters were able to escape. The body of Captain Araguz was not found until 7:20 this morning.

Below are excerpts from news coverage of the fire.

From the Montgomery Police Reporter:

The Wharton Police dispatcher then dispatched the Boling Volunteer Fire Department as well as the Wharton Volunteer Fire Department. Both departments arrived on scene at 9:52 PM, and reported heavy smoke and fire. The structure was approximately 25,000 to 30,000 square feet. The building housed offices as well as the egg processing portion of the business, which was their main operation.

The Wharton Fire Department’s second engine made entry approximately 150 ft into the interior in an attempt to stop the progression of the fire. Once inside the three firefighters encountered heavy smoke and heat, and then the heat conditions increased rapidly and the firefighters attempted to back out. Two firefighters were able to escape, but Araguz was trapped inside. Multiple Rapid Intervention Teams, (RIT) were sent in to search for him, but were driven back by the intense heat and flames.

From KRIV-TV:

According to fire officials at the scene, about 15 minutes into fighting the flames, a “mayday” call was sent out.

Three firefighters became trapped by falling debris and in a warehouse at the egg farm. Two of the firefighters were rescued and transported to the hospital with minor burns and smoke inhalation.

The third firefighter’s body was found after 7 a.m. Sunday morning. The firefighter has been identifed as 30 year-old Captain Thomas Araguz III. Captain Araguz was an 11 year veteran with the Wharton Volunteer Fire Department. He leaves behind family members and two small children.

Fire officials of the rural community said 31 surrounding departments had to assist in putting out the blaze. Firefighters and fire equipment from as far away as Lake Jackson FD and West I-10 VFD responded to the scene.

From KPRC-TV: 

A firefighter was killed battling a massive egg plant fire in Boling, Wharton County, KPRC Local 2 reported.  

The fire at the Maxim Production Company on F.M. 442 started at about 9:20 p.m. Saturday. Thirty-one fire departments went to the scene.

 A 30-year-old firefighter became trapped inside the building and died. Officials said he was an 11-year-veteran with the Wharton Fire Department.

From the Houston Chronicle:

The 30-year-old firefighter, whose identity has not yet been released, recently had been promoted to captain at the Wharton Fire Department and leaves behind a wife and two young sons, said Jay Evans, deputy state fire marshal.

From Wharton and known throughout the community, the firefighter had been with the department for 11 years.

“He was highly thought of, and he was a responsible firefighter,” Evans said.

More than 150 firefighters from 31 departments fought the blaze, which broke out around 9:30 p.m. Saturday at the Maximum Production Co., an egg farm in the 3300 block of FM 442, about 11 miles east of Wharton and three miles from Boling, Evans said.

Fire roared through the 25,000-square-foot processing operation, in a 250-foot-long building, and was fueled by huge fans used to keep the animals cool.

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