Fire Department Stretched to Its Limits During Deadly Fire

DESHA, Ark -- A 22-year-old man died in a camper fire in Watson -- a small town in Desha County -- Tuesday night.

Watson Area Volunteer Fire Chief Cody Moreland spent Wednesday evening looking at what little remained of the camper that caught fire.

"I wish that there was more that could have been done," said Moreland.

Moreland and a crew of ten men  -- 2 short of the full team  -- were busy fighting a house fire about a mile away, when they were told about a camper engulfed with someone trapped inside.

"That's something no fireman wants to hear," said Moreland.

5 firefighters headed to the camper fire, but Moreland said he knew it would not be enough to put it out in time.

"Two incidents underway. We are too small of a department," said Moreland.

They eventually got help from Kelso Fire Department -- about 8 miles away and from Dumas and McGehee Fire Departments, about 20 miles away.

"Thankfully, they were able to help us get things under control," said Moreland.

But with a cost.

"Do your best to try to get to folks ... Sometimes you can't," said Moreland.
Moreland said a 22-year-old man died inside the camper fire.

"Unfortunately, we couldn't get to him in time," said Moreland.
Something he thinks might have been prevented had his fire department enough manpower.

"That's certainly possible, but that's an issue all rural volunteer fire departments are facing. Volunteer shortage is a very big problem right now," said Moreland.

His thoughts are now with a family one smile short to share cheer with this holiday season.

"On behave of myself, my department and all the first responders in the area, we wish our deepest sympathy for their loss," said Moreland.

The name of the man killed in the fire is not being released at this time.
Arkansas State Police is investigating the cause of the fire.

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