Man rescued from house fire in critical condition at Parkland
Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

Dec. 28, 2006 - An elderly Black Oak woman and a passing motorist rescued her 82-year-old husband from their burning house Wednesday afternoon.

The elderly man remained in critical condition at the burn unit at Parkland Hospital in Dallas Thursday morning where he was being treated for severe smoke inhalation, and torso and facial burns. His wife was treated at Hopkins County Memorial Hospital for a few hours for smoke inhalation before being released.

Bernice and Earnest “Pete” Brown were at their County Road 2428 residence just before 4 p.m. Wednesday when Bernice noticed fire in the back bedroom around the water heater. Pete was in bed. Bernice grabbed a water hose and attempted to extinguish the fire. When that failed, Bernice ran into the roadway and flagged down a passing motorist, James Humphries, she told Hopkins County Fire Investigator Steve Caudle later Wednesday night from HCMH.

Humphries’ cell phone was used to report the fire to emergency dispatchers. A neighbor also called it in after seeing the flames. Hopkins County, Como, Brinker and Arbala firefighters were dispatched to the structure fire at the wood frame house on County Road 2428 one minute before 4 p.m. Wednesday.

Bernice Brown and James Humphries twice attempted to go back inside to rescue her husband Pete from the house, where the blaze continued to spread. On the second try, the pair was able to pull Pete Brown from the house.

Unfortunately, they weren’t able to get him out in time to prevent him from suffering from severe smoke inhalation, as well as second and third degree burns to his upper torso and some facial burns.

Both Bernice and Pete Brown were taken to Hopkins County Memorial Hospital, where she remained until last night to be treated for smoke inhalation. 

He was rushed later in the night to Parkland Hospital’s burn unit in Dallas due to the severe smoke inhalation and the burns he suffered. Officials said a report early this morning from the hospital indicated Brown’s serious condition had not improved. 

Bernice was released from Hopkins County Memorial Hospital and went to Parkland to await news of her  husband’s condition. She was still at the hospital Thursday morning, where relatives were going to check on the pair. 

The couple’s grandson Roy, who reportedly had been staying with the Browns to help care for his ailing grandfather, was away from home at the time of the fire, Hopkins County Salvation Army Chairman Jo Marie Neal said Thursday morning.

When firefighters left the location the blaze was out, and the house was being considered a total loss as the entire interior was gutted. Brinker and Como firefighters responded again from 8:30 p.m. to 9:31 p.m. when the fire rekindled, resulting in even more destruction.

Hopkins County Fire Investigator Steve Caudle was at the scene midmorning Thursday examining the remains of the small wood frame house, trying to determine what caused the fire.

Neal said the Salvation Army had been in contact with Bernice Brown as well as her family members Wednesday night as well as Thursday morning and will continue to work with the family to assist the Browns with their needs, which had yet to be fully determined.

The Browns had home insurance but donations of woman’s size 16 pants, extra large tops and size nine shoes are being accepted at HCSA headquarters, located inside The Bait Shop on South Broadway Street, as well as monetary and household items and donations to assist Bernice Brown.

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