GHENT, W.Va.--Members of a fire department in rural West Virginia are mourning the loss of two of its crew, and praying for the recovery of another.
Killed in a gas explosion Tuesday morning that leveled a gas station and convenience store were career EMT Craig Dorsey II, 24, and Fred Burroughs, 52, a volunteer and former chief of Ghent Volunteer Fire Department.
Meanwhile, Don Caldwell, also a Ghent firefighter, is listed in critical condition in Charleston Hospital, said Jo Crouser, EMS administrator at the fire company.
Crouser remained at the fire station Tuesday morning when the units were dispatched to the Little General store about a half mile away. "It [the blast] knocked me completely down. My first thought was 'oh, my God. They were there for a gas leak, I just knew"
The ambulance, occupied by Dorsey and EMT Christopher Cook, was destroyed by the blast that was felt miles away. Cook was released after treatment at a local hospital.
Burroughs, a member of the fire company board of directors, had responded to the call in his personal vehicle. "He was the chief here one time. He was very involved," Crouser said.
Like Burroughs, Caldwell also heard the call on his pager, and went to the scene. "That's what the volunteers do here. If they hear something toned out, they respond in their vehicles. Think about how many times there's a call for a gas leak."
In addition to working as an EMT, Dorsey also was a volunteer firefighter. "He was very active. He really liked it."
Dorsey, who has a young son, was engaged.
Funeral arrangements are pending. The loss in the small community has left residents stunned. People are leaning on one another to get through. The phone at the fire station hasn't stopped ringing. 'Everyone knows everyone here.'
The department has 30 volunteer firefighters, and 10 career EMS personnel. This is the first time that they've had to prepare to bury their own.