Man injured trying save father from fire

April 14, 2009 10:01:40 AM PDT
Fire officials are searching for the cause of a fatal fire in far northeast Houston. An elderly man was killed, leaving his family grieving over his loss.[SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

Firefighters found the flames shooting from the home just north of Huffman-Cleveland near Plantation Hills around 3am. The house sits about a mile off the main roadway. By the time fire crews arrived, there was little they could do.

Officials say there were four adults inside at the home when the fire broke out -- an elderly couple, their son and his wife.

Throughout the morning Tuesday, friends and family members of Jack Cooper arrived at his home, expressing shock and dismay.

"He is disabled so he can't really walk that well. They tried to get him, but he couldn't get the door open to get him out," said Caitlin Cooper, the victim's granddaughter.

Caitlin says it was her grandfather who died in the flames that ripped through the wood framed house. She just lives 15 feet away.

"My mom just woke me up and she was trying to go out there," she said. "I just woke up and I saw the house burning and I just freaked out."

Investigators say the son made a gallant effort to save his father.

"The son had some burns to his back, where he had been trying to get in and get his father out," said Chief Tommy Dowdy with the Houston Fire Department.

Investigators say Cooper's other son also ran into the house to try to help but the flames were just too intense. By the time fire crews arrived, the house was nearly gone and there was little anyone could do but work to make sure the fire didn't spread.

"We were really scared that the other house was going to get on fire because it was spreading really quickly and we have a propane tank right next to it," said Caitlin. "We were scared about that, but thank God it was out in time."

Fire crews say water supply wasn't a problem. Several pumper trucks from different departments were called out. The problem was the distance they had to travel in order to get to the house. The house was a complete loss by the time they made it there.

The son was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital with several injuries.

Arson investigators are looking into what caused the tragic fire.

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