Ruben on the Road: Revisiting Rusk house fire

Published: Feb. 28, 2023 at 12:08 PM CST
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Earlier this month, an Amarillo Police Department officer was injured while rescuing a man from a house fire on Rusk Street.

Amarillo Fire Department Community Liaison Jeff Justus said AFD has established a solid relationship with Amarillo first responders throughout the years. This incident is an example of that relationship.

On Feb. 7, a house caught fire in the area of Southwest 4th Avenue and South Rusk Street.

“I was really right around the corner,” said APD Cpl. Daniel Smith. “Me and the chief were the first two there. It was fully engulfed, one of the houses was. It was catching the house next to it on fire.”

Smith asked where he was needed, and didn’t hesitate when he was asked to step up.

“I said ‘what can I do to help out? What do you need?’ The flames were starting to catch the neighbor’s house on fire and he said ‘will you evacuate that house?’” Smith said.

The fire victim told Smith that her dad was inside and needed to be rescued. The father couldn’t get out and needed oxygen.

“The house was smokey, it wasn’t too bad,” Smith said. “I went in and got him and as we were walking out, the wind caught the smoke from both fires and wrapped it right on the front door on us.”

APD Chief Martin Birkenfeld described Smith.

“We’re really proud of Daniel Smith,” Birkenfeld said. “He always does a good job, he’s been here a lot of years. He comes to work eager and energetic and it’s much appreciated.”

Smith, who has asthma, received smoke inhalation from the smoke blowing in his face. He was treated and recovered at an Amarillo hospital.

“AFD would like to thank APD and AMS for all that they do,” Justus said. “We share a lot of calls together, not just fires. We all have to work together. We just want to thank them for their service and all they do to protect us.”