Volunteer fire chief dies while battling Brazoria County house fire

Officials are trying to determine why the Damon Volunteer Fire Department chief collapsed at the scene of a house fire Monday
April 22, 2014 2:14:57 PM PDT
The chief of a volunteer fire department collapsed and died while battling a fire Monday night in Brazoria County. Fellow firefighters with the Damon Volunteer Fire Department rushed to help their chief, Hugh Ferguson, when he collapsed but nothing could be done.

Investigators don't know yet what caused Ferguson to collapse while battling the single-story house fire. He did so without warning, leaving a small community where he was known so well only to grieve.

Ferguson fought fires since the age of 16. He was chief for over 24 years. Hearing that he collapsed at the scene of a vacant house fire in Damon is debilitating news for those who knew him best.

"I had a hard time breathing. I didn't know really what to do," Damon volunteer Firefighter Roger Partain said.

Partain was not on the call but heard the radio traffic of a firefighter down. Since, he's struggled to make sense of it.

"I don't know how to answer that. It's too much to swallow," he said.

The home in the 600 block of Woodward was engulfed before fire crews arrived around 11pm Monday.

"It was a very big fire," Witness Kathy Miller said.

Miller was recording video of the blaze but immediately knew something was wrong when fire crews asked her to stop. She later learned that Ferguson had died while helping hook up water to douse the blaze.

"That was a wake up call for me," she said.

Ferguson leaves behind a wife and two sons who are also firefighters. One of them was also at the firefighter that killed their father.

We're told he also loved his four-year-old grandson, whom Ferguson taught how to roll up a fire hose. His family is too grief-stricken to speak publicly, but Wendy Norris spoke on their behalf.

"They are so proud of who he is and who he was as a fire chief and what he has done for the community, especially the fire services here," Norris said.

There was hardly a fire call Ferguson missed during his decades of service. Family and friends say a part of him will always be on every engine that ever again rushes to someone's aid.

Investigators don't know yet what started the fire here. The fire marshal is working on that.

Ferguson's funeral has not yet been set. The 100 Club is assisting the family with immediate expenses.

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