Exclusive: HFD reveals new details about deadly motel fire

June 11, 2013 4:13:34 PM PDT
We have new developments in the investigation into a massive fire that killed four Houston firefighters. On Tuesday, the fire chief discussed some of the findings of what really happened on the fire department's worst day.

The multi-pronged investigation is still ongoing, but the fire chief did confirm exclusively to Eyewitness News that there was more than one collapse during that deadly fire.

Houston Fire Chief Terry Garrison says a full review is still underway over the deadly blaze that killed four Houston firefighters. While we've known that there was an initial deadly collapse, the chief now confirms there was a second partial collapse that resulted in several of the more serious injuries.

"There was a secondary event that caused some injury to our firefighters," Garrison said.

Despite the tragic deaths and more than a dozen injuries, the fire chief is still defending his department's initial aggressive attacks during that fire.

"We had heard reports that there were people in there, so we rushed in, and that's what we do. And if you think about it, early in the fire incidents, the fire goes out best from the inside," Garrison said. "So a fast, aggressive, smart, interior attack is still the best firefighting we can have in the country."

Tactics and procedures will be addressed in the ongoing investigation, though Tuesday's focus at City Hall was on the fire department's budget. In that regard, it's good news. This fiscal year, the department is adding six cadet classes -- three regular classes, and three fast track classes for those already certified. If all goes as planned, there will be 3,881 firefighters in the department by 2014, an increase of 120.

Stephen Autrey is among them the hopefuls.

"It's good because it's obviously more opportunity, so with more opportunities, more people have the opportunity to get on," Autrey said.

Garrison says though the investigation is ongoing, it does not appear that the new radios the fire department is using hindered communication in any way.

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