Honoring A McClung Fire Hero

By: Gordon Boyd
By: Gordon Boyd

Knoxville (WVLT) -- Often, we call them our bravest and we can see its their courage under fire, that is the fire itself.

On February 7 the Old City's McClung Warehouse gave firefighters the inferno they all train for, but hope never to face.

Tapes of the calls between firefighters inside McClung and their fire commands outside the complex were chilling.

-"Get out of that building."

-"We can't, the door is jammed."

-"They're trapped ok, we've got trapped firefighters"

Knoxville Firefighter Jeff Kindrick was one of the three firefighters that became trapped in the building.

As we have found out since the blaze, he could have gotten safely clear, but he stayed to help his brother firefighters, blood brothers Jeff and Joe Lee.

"He was risking his life to look for us in there," Jeff Lee said in an interview after the fire.

"Jeff Kindrick just came straight out and it was amazing," said Kevin Andrews who was on the ground.

"To be honest with you, it looked pretty bleak," Kindrick said before a small gathering. "I was lost, and couldn't find my way through the room. I ended up having to listen for the sound of the pumpers to find my way out."

The fire left Jeff Lee with first degree burns on his face, neck, ear and hands. His brother Joe's finger got a friction burn, sliding down the hose line.

Kindrick's injuries were just as bad.

"Right now, I'm recovering from a fractured spine and had my brace taken off about three weeks ago, and I'm doing physical therapy now," Kindrick said.

Today offered the hero some emotional therapy as Knoxville Firefighters presented him with their Fire Safety Accommodation award.

"I'm really looking forward to getting back," Kindrick said after receiving the award. "I miss the guys a lot."

Jeff told the the crowd that he can't think of himself as a hero, and that what he did during the McClung fire was more than a part of the training firefighters receive, its simply what firefighters do.

As for the experience, he says it scared him beyond flesh and bone, but when he looks back, he is grateful.

"The thing that stays with me, the most about it is at that everybody who was involved came out of it okay, and we're still alive," he said.

Jeff Kindrick's been a firefighter almost 10 years, four of which have come in Knoxville.

He hopes to be back on the truck by late summer.


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