Port Allen native involved in heroic Houston fire rescue

Written by Aaron Williams on . Posted in Local


An Internet video began spreading soon after it was uploaded to the popular video sharing website, YouTube, last week, showing the incredible dramatic rescue of a man in a burning building

in Houston, Texas.

Houston fire fighters set up a ladder truck beside the blazing 396-unit apartment complex and began to send the ladder upward after learning there may have been a person inside the building near the roof.

Meanwhile, construction supervisor Curtis Reissig, 56, who was in the building investigating a report of a fire became trapped on the fifth floor balcony. The fire swept through the building, causing Reissig to instinctively jump down to the fourth floor where the fire ladder met him.

Karen Jones, a woman who was at work across the street from the burning building, recorded a video on her cell phone, which she shared on YouTube.

As of Monday afternoon, Jones’ video had more than 6.8 million views.

Dwayne Wyble, Port Allen native and the Houston firefighter who was operating the ladder truck during the rescue, said that the media attention he and the Houston Fire Department are getting is incredible.

“It’s been hectic. We’ve gotten very little rest, but I’m not complaining,” Wyble said adding that the amount of appreciation he has received has been overwhelming.

Wyble, during a telephone interview Friday afternoon, recalled the events Tuesday leading to the rescue of Reissig.

“We were dispatched to what was classified as a high-rise fire,” he recalled. “Initially there was reports of people being on the roof, so when we went on location, we found the most ideal spot that we could find.”

Wyble, a 1979 Port Allen High graduate, said that he was able to park the truck in a location that was most ideal for a rescue when a man on the fifth floor balcony was spotted.

“This was a building that was under construction – all the wood was still exposed, there was no sheetrock, so it was a wide-open area,” Wyble explained. “So the guy came out on the balcony - and we had about a 20 mile per hour wind - and it pushed the fire from one end of the building to the other, which was about 200 feet.”

He said that the wind pushed the fire from one end of the building to the other in less than four minutes.

“While we were trying to get to the guy, he had to drop down from the fifth floor to the fourth floor and we had set our ladder up and got him off of that fourth floor balcony,” Wyble said, adding that once Reissig had been rescued from the balcony, the drama had not ended. “Within five second after getting him off that balcony, the fifth floor collapsed and fell out towards the ladder and the guys on the ladder narrowly escaped the collapse.”

Dwayne Wyble’s parents, Melvin and Yvonne Wyble, who still live in Port Allen, said they are extremely proud of their son for not only the singular act of heroism he displayed Tuesday, but all the time as a firefighter.

“So many people don’t realize what the firemen do and the danger they are in… they don’t realize the intensity of the work they have to do when there is a fire,” said Melvin. “I think it’s great that they were able to get this exposure.”

Dwayne said that he and Senior Captain Brad Hawthorne, the firefighter on the ladder, have done countless media interviews for outlets locally and internationally.

“Since Tuesday, we’ve done interviews for all of the major networks… with CNN, several newspaper interviews – BBC called from London and talked with the captain. It’s been a whirlwind,” Dwayne said.

Dwayne Wyble and Sr. Cpt. Hawthorne traveled to New York to appear as guests on NBC’s Today Show as well as on Inside Edition.

“The attention is a lot, but for us in Houston it comes at a good time. We’re dealing with budget constraints and all that, so any good news is good for us,” Dwayne explained. “We all work really hard at what we do, and it’s good to get some good exposure every now and then.”

Yvonne Wyble said that her son has always been the type of person to help others in need, so it was no surprise to her when he became a firefighter 30 years ago or when she found that he was involved in Tuesday’s heroic event.

“He’s a very caring person who helps wherever he can. He’s always been that way. He’s a person that takes charge,” she said.

Melvin Wyble agreed, saying “If someone’s in need, he’s right there.”

As far as Tuesday’s blaze, Dwayne said that Reissig is a lucky man.

“The way things lined up… a lot of luck went into it,” he said. “There are so many different variables that could have happened. He was really lucky, and we were, the way things fell into place for us.”

He said that he realized that he, too, is lucky to be alive.

“We’ve never had that close of an incident where you were just feet away from a collapse,” Dwayne Wyble said. “There was a tremendous amount of heat. It was starting to melt the lenses on the back of the ladder truck, and they were taking a tremendous amount of heat on top of the ladder. We had no idea that that collapse was going to come down like that four minutes after we had set the ladder up.”

Yvonne, however, said she believed it was more than luck.

“I just told him someone was watching out for him. That’s my thinking,” she said.

Dwayne said that he is just glad he was able to help a person in need, and all the attention that has been garnered through the events is just a plus.

“We do our jobs and we don’t expect any thanks for what we do. So to get all this attention is overwhelming,” he said.

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