Families of firefighters focus on memories

By Jace Larson - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - Saturday will be a day of remembering for many family members of the firefighters killed in the Southwest Inn fire. It is the one-year anniversary.

Firefighter Anne Sullivan, 24, Capt. Matthew Renaud, 35, Engineer Operator Robert Bebee, 41, and Firefighter Robert Garner, 29 were killed in the fire.

"I miss my daughter every day," Mary Sullivan told Local 2 Friday. "She was wonderful. She was spirited, determined. She was compassionate, loving and fun."

Mary Sullivan started the Anne McCormick Sullivan Memorial Scholarship which seeks to encourage and provide money for women to attend the firefighting training academy. Mary Sullivan says her daughter would to encourage others to join the line of work she loved.

"The only thing that outweighs my sadness is the pride that I have for my daughter. It's about what she did that day and how she conducted herself all her life," Sullivan said.
Each firefighter was inside the building when the roof collapsed. The fire fighters were searching for anyone who may have been trapped inside.

Firefighter Matthew Renaud's brother, David, plans to mark the one-year anniversary with a small ceremony and time with family.

"A lot has been made about the anniversary coming up. To me it's just another day. It's day 365 of Matthew not being here," David Renaud said. "My brother and I were best friends."

He says his brother died doing what he loved.

"My brother loved being a Houston fire fighter. He went in there without hesitation to do what he was trained. We're proud of him for that," David Renaud said. "Those four were brave individuals."

Both families want the focus to be about remembering their loved ones. Renaud's family has started the Capt. Renaud Foundation. Its goal is to provide financial assistance to firefighters and their families following a line of duty death or catastrophic injury.

In addition to the four firefighters who died, many were injured.

Captain Bill Bowling was one of them and had to have both of his legs amputated after injuries he sustained in the fire.

Cause of fire unknown

A year after the fire no official report on the cause has been issued.

Local 2 sources tell investigative reporters Jace Larson and Robert Arnold that the ATF is drafting its report on the cause now. It's expected to be out in a few weeks.

A state fire marshal's report on training and procedures isn't expected until late summer or early fall.

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