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Volunteer firefighter dies in Wharton County plant fire

ERICA RODRIGUEZ

By ERICA RODRIGUEZ
July 4, 2010 at 2:04 a.m.

Emergency personnel attend to Wharton volunteer firefighter John Cano after a Saturday night fire in Boling.

BOLING - A volunteer firefighter's body was found Sunday morning after a massive fire at an egg plant.

"He was found in the production area about 100 feet in," said Deputy State Fire Marshal Jay Evans.

The firefighter, 30-year-old Capt. Thomas Araguz III with the Wharton Fire Department, was a father of two children and an 11-year member of the department, Evans said. He had just recently been promoted.

The fire began about 9:40 p.m. Saturday at the Maxim Production Company at 3307 Farm-to-Market Road 442. Evans said 31 fire departments responded to the blaze, and production and office buildings were totally destroyed.

At 10:50 p.m. firefighters called out a "mayday" saying they were in intense heat and trapped.

The fire was finally under control at 6:30 a.m.

Evans said the blaze was difficult to battle because of its remote location.

"It's out in the rural part of the county," he said.

The nearest fire hydrant was three miles away in Boling, and firefighters had to travel up to 11 miles to refill their water tanks, he said.

Two other firefighters escaped the blaze with smoke inhalation and heat exhaustion injuries. They were treated at Gulf Coast Medical Center in Wharton and released before noon Sunday, Evans said.

Former Boling Fire Chief Kevin Bannert, who fought the fire, described the scene as massive.

"I've never had the opportunity to fight a fire that big," he said.

As of 4:40 p.m. Sunday, firefighters were still putting out small hot spots of the fire.

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