Former BYU and pro-football player Gordon Hudson raced barefoot through a condominium Monday night scooping up his three children during a two-alarm blaze that injured two Salt Lake County firefighters.
"My only concern was to get the kids out first; they're safe - that's what was most important," he said.Hudson was cooking dinner when grease popped and ignited a wall. Flames swept through the kitchen into the condominium's second level where Hudson's 5-year-old and 7-year-old girls were sleeping.
After making sure his 2-year-old son was deposited safely outside, he darted upstairs into the burning house after his daughters.
"It was engulfed real fast. Before I knew it, flames were out the windows upstairs," he said. "I had to feel my way out."
Hudson and the three children were not injured.
Meanwhile, 28 firefighters laid hundreds of feet of hose from water hydrants to battle the blaze. One received second-degree burns when falling debris knocked his helmet off and slipped down his neck. Another was burned during the initial attack when he crouched low and embers burned through his suit into his knee, Lt. Dennis Steadman said. Both were treated at the scene for minor second-degree burns.
"We got through the front door and the flames were rolling across the ceiling toward us," paramedic Dee Putnam said. "The whole house was involved - all the way through the living room."
Steadman said officials have been concerned about fighting fires at the condominium project, 1580 E. 5600 South, because of construction and difficult access.
"We've dreaded a fire in these condos because they're all made of wood and the roads are very difficult to get fire equipment through," he said. "If there had been a big wind we would have lost the whole project."
Early in the fire, three neighbors grabbed a garden hose and two fire extinguishers and attempted to douse flames at the front door.
One of the neighbors, David Wagner, was slightly injured when he went into the house to carry Hudson's 2-year-old out the front door. A window popped and wood cut his left arm.
"I was the first one in the house, the carpet was burning and the little kid had tripped so I grabbed him and brought him out across the street," Wagner said.
The fire gutted the condominium and caused heavy smoke damage in units to the east and west. Damage was estimated to be more than $100,000, Steadman said.
Hudson was a two-time All-America tight end at BYU. He played two years in the United States Football League for the Los Angeles Express. He then played for the Seattle Seahawks in the National Football League. He later was picked up by the San Francisco 49ers but was released in August 1989.