|Updated: 9/20/2012 9:25 am
||Published: 9/19/2012 8:14 pm
The ashes at the former site of the Tulsa School of Arts and Sciences have long cooled, but for the eight firefighters who were injured when they responded to a blaze at the school, they will always remember this fire.
When the call came in at 5:03 a.m. on September Fifth, Ryan Beeler didn't know it would be the call that changed his life.
“My shift started at seven o'clock the morning before. I was two hours away from being off,” Beeler said.
His last run of the day ended up being his last run for a while. Within minutes of the call, Ryan was inside the burning school with seven other firefighters trying to find the source of the flames.
“The first explosion happened, and we felt the floor kind of rumbled, and within five seconds that second explosion happened, that intense heat pushed us to the ground.”
Around the same time FOX23 Daybreak Reporter Melissa Hawkes' phone rang.
“My producer called and said, ‘Hey, there's this fire. We heard it's a school, and we're hearing it's pretty big.’ I said, ‘OK, we'll head over there.’ I thought, ‘Ryan's station's a half a mile from there, I bet you he's at that fire,’” Hawkes said.
Ryan is Melissa’s boyfriend, and after making his way out of the burning school, he still managed to write a quick text.
“He sent me a message back while we were still driving there that said yes it's huge, I have to go to the hospital, but he didn't tell me why."
“I was in shock to tell you the truth. I didn't know what was going on. I just knew my ear hurt,” Ryan said.
Ryan’s ear and the area behind his ear was seriously burned. When Melissa got to 17th and Lewis around 5:45 it was as chaotic in her head as it was on the ground.
“I was fielding news calls from back at the station, I was also trying to find out where Ryan was, I was asking everybody, where are the ambulances, where are they loading up the firefighters,” she said.
Melissa finished her shift, and she reported about the fire for the next six hours.
“I think he does respect the fact that I stayed out there and worked and made sure I finished the show, and made sure people knew what was going on.”
Their first on the job meeting in Tulsa unlike anything they would imagine.
“Never in a million years did we dream the first scene in Tulsa that we saw each other on would be so extreme,” Ryan said.
Once was enough for Melissa.
“I hope I never see him on a fire again. I'll never forget that day reporting, and I'll never forget the emotion on their faces, the way I felt, trying to field everything that was happening all around me.”
Ryan is not allowed back on the job yet. He needs to get clearance from the city's doctors, and he's hoping that can happen in the next few weeks.