By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal
VERONA – Wally Bruce went home Saturday after being treated Friday at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson for burns sustained during a fire in the Palmetto community.
Bruce, assistant chief for the Palmetto Volunteer Fire Department, entered the front door of the old Malone’s Fish and Steakhouse to fight an early morning fire when a heat wave knocked him down.
“It was similar to a back draft, but without the flames,” said Palmetto Fire Chief Bobby Briley. “Wiley was telling Brian (his son) they need to back out when he went down.”
He was treated for first- and second-degree burns on his calves, the top of his head, back of his neck, ears and one finger.
Brian Bruce, along with Verona Volunteer Firemen Brooks Green and C.W. Smith, pulled Wiley Bruce from the fire.
The fire began around 3 a.m. and burned until after 10 a.m. but was under control by 5 a.m.
Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson said they still are investigating the fire, and it is too early to know if it was set or an accident, but at this point they have ruled out an electrical fire.
“If we find out it was a criminal act, the charges will be enhanced with an aggravated assault charge because of the injury to (Bruce),” he said.
Briley said Bruce is doing fine and will continue to visit doctors this week.
Bruce’s treatment is being covered by insurance, but Briley said he is working to put together some sort of fund to help in the recovery process.