Family of firefighter critically injured in deadly motel fire speaks out

Captain Bill Dowling was one of multiple firefighters responding to a massive, 5-alarm blaze at the Southwest Inn off 59 South.

June 12, 2013 4:03:15 AM PDT
We're hearing for the first time from the family of a firefighter who was critically injured during the late May five-alarm fire at a motel in southwest Houston.

Capt. William Dowling was severely burned in the motel fire that killed 4 Houston firefighters. He also had his legs amputated and is the only firefighter injured in the fire who is still in the hospital.

The 40-year-old just had surgery to insert a catheter so that he can have dialysis. He is not yet able to speak, but his parents say each tiny improvement is a blessing.

Dowling is married and has three children.

"He loves his children, just like we love him. He's a great dad," his father, Rickie Dowling, said.

Since the fire at the southwest motel that killed four Houston firefighters, the 40-year-old captain has been heavily sedated. His parents, proudly wearing Houston Fire Department T-shirts, spend most of their time at the hospital, praying for his recovery.

"God through all of this is upholding him. That's what I prayed with him just a few minutes ago," Dowling said.

Doctors are trying to restore Dowling's kidney function. The next step will be skin grafts, but his family says God has already answered many prayers.

"He has responded with sticking his tongue out and his son asked him -- his oldest son Forrest -- 'Daddy can you still wiggle your ears?' And he wiggled his ears so we know that he's there," Rickie Dowling said.

"My son has always been a fighter. He's competitive. He likes a challenge," his mother, Mary Frances Dowling, said.

Dowling has taken on many challenges, most of them in service to others. The former Marine worked two fire department jobs to support his own family and had opened his home to two foster children.

"He still had love for these other children and to realize that they need something. He was willing to give himself and of his family to do that for someone else and that's how we're supposed to do," Mary Dowling said.

His family believes Capt. Dowling will recover, and continue to bless those around him.

"It wasn't something that we'd have chosen but God has a reason," Mary Dowling said. "God's going to use him in a mighty way to minister to other people."

One thing the Dowlings say people keep asking is how they can help. There are several ways, from donating blood in Captain Dowling's name, to helping the foster children's charity in which he was involved.

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