Fallen firefighters of Texas explosion died as heroes

Firefighters were first to battle flames at West fertilizer plant

Published On: Apr 20 2013 09:37:31 PM CDT   Updated On: Apr 20 2013 11:01:21 PM CDT
WEST, Texas -

They were the first running into battle flames at the West fertilizer plant. With the explosion, firefighters who took those brave steps didn't make it out alive.

Jerry Chapman, 26, volunteered with the Abbott Fire Department. His friend, Sharon Matthews, said they were inseparable.

"Once you got to know him, you could see the great heart he has," said Matthews. "There wasn't a day that would go by that I didn't see him."

When Chapman didn't answer his phone the night of the explosion, Matthews tried not to imagine the worst.

"We were hoping and praying and nothing was confirmed," said Matthews. "Then we were on the way to go talk to his parents to see if they heard anything is when we found out that they did."

Firefighter Cyrus Reed grew up in Houston and also died in the explosion. At the West fire station, survivors are trying to stay strong.

"He loved the kids. I mean he was awesome," said Larson. "It breaks your heart when things happen when somebody's trying to do good and so much bad comes out of it."

George Nors Junior stepped in as acting Chief, because his father, the regular Chief is injured and in the hospital. Nors Junior hopes his own role as leader here is temporary.