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Beyond the call of duty: 2 Correctional Officers save residents from apartment fire

Staying calm and keeping a cool head helped two TDCJ Correctional Officers accomplish their task of evacuating residents of a burning apartment building in Beeville. Correctional Officers Juan Gallegos and Raymond Martinez were driving by the Lantana Southridge Apartments on October 10th when they noticed flames flickering up from underneath the roof of a two-story building.

Photo of CO Juan Gallegos and CO Raymond Martinez
Pictured (L to R) are Correctional Officer Juan Gallegos and Correctional Officer Raymond Martinez.

“I called 911 to get the fire department and the police there as quickly as possible,” said officer Martinez. “There were 2 buildings that needed to be evacuated fast so we used our training to remain calm and not lose control of the situation.”

Both men, who work at Garza East Unit, began going door to door alerting resident that there was a fire.

Officer Gallegos said there was an elderly woman resident who needed extra help getting out of her first floor apartment.

“We helped her outside and then realized she needed her walker and oxygen tank,” said Gallegos. “I went back inside and got them before we helped her across the street to a safer area where she was taken care of by paramedics.”

Both officers remain humble about their rescue efforts. “We just wanted to help,” they said. “Part of TDCJ’s mission statement is to ‘provide public safety’ and that’s what we did that night.”

The apartment building suffered significant damage. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.