Faulty fan cord blamed for deadly Bryan fire

Officials say fan was left plugged into an outlet

By Robert Arnold - Investigative Reporter

BRYAN, Texas - Investigators said have determined the source of a fire that claimed the lives of two veteran Bryan firefighters.

Bryan Fire Department Lieutenants Eric Wallace and Gregory Pickard died from injuries sustained while fighting a fire at the Knights of Columbus Hall Friday evening.

Fire Chief Randy McGregor said the hall was empty when the fire started but a fan was left plugged into an outlet. Investigators believe it was a faulty fan cord that caused the fire.

"The fire was caused by the failure of an energized electrical cord," said McGregor. "The cord was part of a fan located in the Bingo Hall and dining area. The cord was then strung into the kitchen."

Bryan Fire Marshal Marc McFeron said it was not known yet if anything else was plugged into the outlet with the 10-foot-long fan cord, or whether the cord had become frayed or split.

McFeron said it was determined electrical arcing from the cord ignited materials in the immediate area.

"I know there was a first aid kit right near that area, plastic materials, then some other minor articles, combustibles," said McFeron.

Bryan police officers said Lt. Wallace was one of the first fighters to enter the building but became trapped when an order to evacuate the building was given.

Fire officials said Lt. Pickard, along with firefighters Ricky Mantey and Mitch Moran, went in to save Lt. Wallace when the roof collapsed.

Lt. Wallace died at a nearby hospital. Pickard died Sunday at UTMB Hospital in Galveston.

Related: Vigil held for fallen firefighters

McGregor said he visited with Mantey and Moran on Tuesday, who are still recovering at UTMB.

"Today, we got to witness them stand up and take some steps down the hallway, and that was a great step forward," said McGregor as other Bryan firefighters began applauding.

Memorial services for Lt. Pickard and Lt. Wallace will be held Wednesday in Bryan.

Copyright 2013 by Click2Houston.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.