PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY

Firefighter Killed in Wind-Driven Blaze

Firefighters mourn Wilson, the first firefighter to die in the department's history. Authorities said the wind contributed to the speed of the fire.
Firefighters mourn Wilson, the first firefighter to die in the department's history. Authorities said the wind contributed to the speed of the fire. (By Dylan Moore -- The Potomac News Via Associated Press)

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By Theresa Vargas
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Half of the white-paneled home on Marsh Overlook Drive in Woodbridge looks intact from the outside, as if a fire never tore through it early yesterday. The other half is blackened and gutted, forever changed -- mirroring the mood among Prince William County firefighters yesterday as they mourned the loss of one of their own for the first time in the department's 41-year history.

Kyle R. Wilson, 24, was among the first to arrive at the scene of the three-alarm fire, which started shortly after 6 a.m. A short time later, officials said, he died inside the house, fighting an unrelenting blaze that was fueled by the high winds yesterday.

"As a department, our grief knows no bounds right now," Fire and Rescue Chief Mary Beth Michos said at an afternoon news conference.

Black bands covered firefighters' badges, and red rimmed their eyes. Everyone spoke softly.

Michos asked that Wilson's family and girlfriend be thought of but left alone. They did not want to speak at this time, she said.

"This is a very sad day for Mr. Wilson's family, for the department, for our whole county and for all firefighters everywhere," Michos said. "Everybody is grieving right now."

The county's fire and rescue service is made up of volunteers and career staff in 19 fire stations.

Wilson was a rookie career firefighter who had been with the department since January 2006, so new that he had not yet passed probation, Michos said. He graduated from the same recruit school as the son of Assistant Chief Kevin McGee.

"He was an outstanding young man," McGee said yesterday. "I think he was the best of the best."

Officials said they have begun an investigation into what happened inside the house. What is known is that the call was received at 6:02, and the first unit, including Wilson, arrived at 6:09. One minute later, a second alarm was sounded, calling for additional firefighters, and a third alarm came at 6:34. Initially, officials did not know that the family in the home had escaped unharmed, McGee said. He added that firefighters lost physical contact with Wilson at one point, with a structural collapse forcing firefighters out of the building.

Another firefighter was injured when he attempted to rescue Wilson, officials said. The firefighter was not identified, but officials said he suffered minor burns.

McGee added that the wind contributed to the speed of the fire and the collapse of the structure.


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