Buffalo Native Injured in Texas Fire

February 19, 2013 Updated Feb 19, 2013 at 12:46 AM EDT

By Rachel Elzufon

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February 19, 2013 Updated Feb 19, 2013 at 12:46 AM EDT


Buffalo, NY (WKBW) - A South Buffalo native, now a Texas firefighter, is severely injured, after battling flames to try to save another firefighter inside a burning building.

The fire, which killed two firefighters and injured two others, is creating heartbreak for the small community of Bryan, Texas -- along with one West Seneca father who has now traveled to the Lone Star State to be by the side of his son -- a firefighter and hero.

Terry Moran says his son, Mitchel, "opened his eyes and he literally tried to lift up his arms and hug us."

Terry is optimistic, but is living the worst nightmare for the parents of a firefighter.

A blaze and collapsed building in Bryan, Texas killed two firefighters and injured two more.

Mitch Moran lived in Buffalo until he was 14 years old. He is one of the injured firemen.

Terry is calling his 21-year-old son a hero, after he ran into the burning building to try and save a fellow first responder.

"(Mitchel and fellow firefighter Ricky Mantey) were on fire. They're burning and they dragged him to the door," Terry says. "He's a hero. He's my son, and it's amazing what he did."

Mitch has burns to more than 50-percent of his body. He is in shock and kept asleep much of the time. His heart has been racing every since Friday night's blaze.

However, his family is thankful that he is alive.

Terry says he was told, "It was so hot, it was over 2,000 degrees, the hose burst and the water splashed in his face." That burst of water prevented Mitch's face from sustaining burns and him from inhaling smoke.

The Texas town is uniting. Hundreds came together Sunday evening to pray for Mitch and fellow injured firefighter Ricky Mantey, and to honor the two firemen killed.

Kim Varner, who organized the vigil, says "We take for granted that we live in a safe community and that they will always come home. But sometimes they don't."

That's a message Mitch's father hopes resonates with Western New Yorkers as well.

He says "Everybody who can pray for him. From the bottom of my heart, I need everybody to pray that he's healed."

Mitch has already undergone surgery. He still has more skin grafts ahead. Doctors are optimistic that as long as he does not come down with an infection, he will make a recovery.

Mitch, just 21-years-old, has been a firefighter for just 11 months. Doctors believe his age will help him in the healing process.

Terry adds that the Bryan Fire Department has taken amazing care of the family.