Sunday, January 11, 2009


Rushing into a burning building to pull out a disabled veteran?

Those two men deserve a medal. God rest Mr. Lucas' soul.

Fatal fire kills Korean War veteran

By Scott Sticker -The Herald-Zeitung

Two neighbors rushed into a burning house Saturday night and tried to pull out a local war veteran who was in a wheelchair. But by the time they were able to get him out, he was already dead.The New Braunfels Fire Department was dispatched around 6 p.m. Saturday to the fire at 1950 Gruene Road, Battalion Chief Steve Mabe said.

He said fire crews fought the blaze for at least two hours and that as of 10:30 p.m. were still securing the scene.“Immediate attempts were made to get in the house to rescue any individuals inside,” Mabe said.

Two neighbors at the scene said they attempted to pull Arb Lucas out of the blaze.“I kept trying to grab his wheelchair and pull him out,” said Harlan Kraft, the homeowner’s brother. “It was too hot, so I took him out and dragged him to the door.”Chris Rhodes, who lives across the street, said when he saw the fire, he jumped into action.“I just took off running toward the house,” Rhodes said.

He said he spotted Kraft trying to pull Lucas out.“I started to pass out from the fumes,” Kraft said. “Luckily (Rhodes) pulled me and Lucas out of the house.”Kraft said that by the time Lucas was out of the house, he was already dead.“It’s really sad,” Rhodes said. “I’ve been great friends with him for a while. They have lived here their whole lives.”Rhodes explained that Lucas was a veteran of the Korean War. He was befriended by Gary Kraft, who owned the home, and began renting a room in the house about 15 years ago.Two years ago, Rhodes said, Lucas was hit by a car and had to have a leg amputated, which forced him to use a wheelchair.

The fire spread quickly through the residence, which Mabe said was an old wood-frame house.“When I first looked, there were only small flames in the front of the house, near the porch,” Rhodes said. “But by the time I ran over, the whole house was just engulfed.”

As of 10:30 Saturday night, Mabe said the cause of the fire still was undetermined.Fire crews spent all of Saturday night at the scene, and Mabe said an investigation will be complete today.