Injured Vidalia firefighter recovering

Published 12:01 am Friday, January 16, 2015

VIDALIA — A firefighter who broke his ankle fighting a house fire in Vidalia earlier this week is recovering at home and thankful for the community support he’s received.

Vidalia Fire Department firefighter Mark White, 39, was working with his partner Anthony Goodwin to extinguish a house fire on Charles Street Sunday.

White was “on the nozzle” — meaning he was at the front of the line spraying water into the house pumped from a truck outside.

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As his partner told him about flames to his left that needed to be extinguished, White turned and released the water from the house.

“When I opened that nozzle, it sort of rocked me back a bit, and I landed on my ankle,” White said. “There’s a lot of pressure built up in that hose and, normally it doesn’t bother me, but I guess this time it was meant to happen.”

Despite the broken ankle, White stayed in a crouched position for nearly 10 minutes continuing to battle the flames.

White handed off the hose to his partner to fight the fire in a different part of the house and prepared to stand up to change locations.

“I was fixing to stand up, and when I went to put my leg down, I realized my foot was dangling,” White said. “It didn’t hurt real bad when it first happened because my adrenaline was up from being in the fire, but when I tried to stand up I noticed how bad it was.”

White told Goodwin he was injured and the two firefighters quickly evacuated the house, where an ambulance was waiting to take the Vidalia native to Natchez Regional Medical Center.

Doctors told White he had broken and dislocated his ankle — marking a milestone in his life.

“This is my first broken bone, so I didn’t know what to do,” White said, laughing. “I had just never been through any of that before.”

White will undergo surgery next week and be in a cast for nearly eight weeks before he’s able to walk without crutches again.

The feeling of not being able to go to work is something White said is foreign to him after five years of fighting fires. White worked with Concordia Fire District No. 2 for two years and has been with VFD for three years.

“It’s going to be terrible, I can’t even lie,” White said. “It pretty much broke my heart when they told me how bad it was, and that I was going to be out for a while.”

But through the delivery of bad news, White found solace in the outreach from his family, friends and community members — including the family whose house was destroyed.

“I haven’t met them yet, but the assistant chief said they called him and wanted to meet me and check on me,” White said. “They lost everything they had, and they’re still concerned about me.

“That right there kind of restored my faith in humanity when I heard that.”

Though the accident took him out of commission for several weeks, White said he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I thank God that none of the family were hurt in that fire,” White said. “I hate getting hurt, but I would do it over and over again if it means that no one else got hurt.”