As people across the U.S. were gearing up for the Memorial Day weekend, one of our local veterans escaped with his life and watched as the house he build with his own hands 44 years ago burned to the ground.
Wendell Murry, who served in A Company; 2nd Battalion of the 7th Calvary in Vietnam in 1965 & 1966 until being shot in the head with a .30 caliber during a firefight, said he was in bed when fire broke out in his house. Murry said he was trying to get from his bed to his wheelchair when he fell over into the floor. Two men who were at Murry’s residence in the 400 block of Hempstead 55 outside Emmet at the time to install a backup generator, entered the house, got Murry into his wheelchair and got him out of the house before the fire spread through the wood-framed home.
Murry and his daughter-in-law Connie Murry were at the house at the time and the two said they lost everything including family heirlooms. “The halls were lined with family photos we can’t replace.”, Mr. Murry said.
Perrytown Volunteer Fire Department and the Hempstead County Sheriff’s Office were the first called to the scene. With the holiday weekend, fire departments are a bit shorthanded so Perrytown requested assistance and additional water. Emmet Volunteer Fire Department, Deann Volunteer Fire Department and Southeast Volunteer Fire Department all responded to assist Perrytown. Pafford EMS was dispatched for a standby and to tend to Mr. Murry who did sustain some minor injuries in the process of escaping the house.
Unfortunately, the fire spread too fast and the home was not able to be saved. Firefighters worked to keep the fire under control and keep it from overheating the two large propane tanks just off the north end of the house. While firefighters did their work in the early summer heat, they had to account for the large cache of ammunition that was in the house. The fire had reached the ammo by the time firefighters were on scene and was going of like popcorn for more than an hour.
In the end, the home Murry said they drove every nail in was in ruins. There was still hope that some of Murry’s late wife’s belongings which were in a safe survived but the Veteran and former Highway Department employee said he wasn’t sure what he and his family are going to do. Murry said he did have insurance on the house but in the meantime, all he escaped with was the clothes on his back. Murry said he was grateful though that everyone got out without being hurt and he was thankful to the men who aided him in getting out of his burning home.