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Thread: Firefighters Playing Important Role in Shuttle Search

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    Firefighters Playing Important Role in Shuttle Search

    Firefighters Playing Important Role in Shuttle Search


    Firehouse.com News
    Updated: 02-02-2003 04:38:15 PM

    As always, firefighters were early participants in the aftermath activity of the Columbia Shuttle explosion. The wreckage debris area in eastern Texas centered around Hemphill and Nacogdoches along the Louisiana border.

    Federal authorities gravitated to the firehouses here, to organize the search effort. Several media outlets had accounts about local departments and firefighters:

    The Beaumont Enterprise



    HEMPHILL, Texas -- The Hemphill Volunteer fire department was on Saturday staging areas for authorities searching for debris from the space shuttle.
    Rows of tables were set up where firetrucks would normally be housed. Some tables had food for volunteers others were pushed together with maps strewn across them.

    Among the agencies were NASA, Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Rangers, State Health Department, Jasper, Newton and Sabine County Sheriff Offices, the Sabine County Fire Department, Jasper Fire Department, Tri-Community Fire Department, Beaumont's Emergency Management Authorities, the Jasper County Incident Management Team and Hazmat, FBI, ATF, U.S. Marshal's Office and the American Red Cross.

    Department of Defense officials were late on their way to Hemphill Saturday afternoon.

    Houston Chronicle


    Jasper Fire Chief Jamie Gunter, who's also assistant emergency management coordinator for Jasper, Sabine and Newton counties, said searchers in the area will concentrate today on a 75- to 100-square-mile debris field in Sabine County.
    "Our main goal today is to find human remains found through the debris field," Gunter said.

    In a sober reminder of the human cost of Saturday's disaster, a burned torso was found near Hemphill Saturday, the remnants of a space suit a few hundred yards away. A crew member's burned helmet was found in adjacent San Augustine County. Searchers reported finding other body parts, charred shoes, mission patches and other personal effects across the southern part of the debris field.

    Gunter would not disclose specific areas of today's search, nor were reporters allowed to accompany those involved in the search for human remains. Searchers walk shoulder-to-shoulder in a straight line.

    Gunter said volunteer firefighters and area residents are helping out in the search: "There's a lot of people who just feel the need to do something. They know this area, this terrain, and they're here to help," he said.

    If remains are found, Gunter said the area will be marked and the information turned over to NASA and the FBI, who will then be in charge of collecting and removing the remains.

    Lufkin Daily News


    On his way into the facility, Lufkin Fire Chief Pete Prewitt said his department's 21-man Hazardous Materials team was "on call," in the event any area emergency personnel need help with debris, some of which is considered to be highly toxic because of some of the chemicals used in rocket propellant.
    At the Douglass Volunteer Fire Department, firefighters gathered around a small television in one of the bays, listening to updates about the tragedy. In anticipation to what may turn out to be a long haul, a table had been set up with refreshments and sandwich fixings.

    "We called all our firefighters in," said Chief Larry Hobson. "They're here on a strictly volunteer basis. We're helping them secure the areas around the debris. it's unbelievable how many pieces are out there.

    http://cms.firehouse.com/content/art...0&sectionId=46

    AP Photo

    Brevard County, Fla Station 24's flags fly at half-staff following the Columbia tragedy. President Bush ordered flags on government buildings flown at half-staff through Wednesday.

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    Administrator Neil's Avatar
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    Columbia Disaster Reminds America Again who First Responders Really Are

    Austin: Columbia Disaster Reminds America Again who First Responders Really Are

    Updated: 02-02-2003 04:37:27 PM


    As America was awakening on Saturday morning, a tremendous sonic boom jolted much of Texas and several surrounding states. Within hours most of the world knew that the United States had suffered yet another tragedy of immense proportions.

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