Manassas Journal Messenger | Firefighter killed in blaze

Coach John Colantuoni said he wasn’t surprised when his former baseball star, Kyle R. Wilson, chose the path of a firefighter.

As Wilson’s head baseball coach at C.D. Hylton High School in Dale City, Colantuoni said Wilson had all the qualities of a leader — fearless, willing to make sacrifices for others and bound for success.

“He was just a perfect player to coach,” said Colantuoni, a longtime friend of Wilson’s family, who now coaches at Forest Park High School. “You coach so many different kids over the years and he’s just one that stood out. I think it’s just a tragic loss to the community. He’s going to be missed by a lot of people.”

The 24-year-old Prince William County career firefighter was killed while searching for occupants in a three-alarm house fire early Monday morning.

Wilson’s death marks the first line-of-duty fatality in the 41-year history of the Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue.

“As you can imagine, this is a tragedy that is beyond description for us,” said Assistant Fire Chief Kevin McGee.

Firefighters lost physical contact with Wilson, a technician at Occoquan-Woodbridge-Lorton Station 12, during the initial search and tried to rescue him but had to withdraw when the house began to collapse, McGee said at a news conference held near the site of the fire late Monday morning.

The seven occupants of the house at 15474 Marsh Overlook Drive in Woodbridge escaped and were inside a neighbor’s house when firefighters began their search and rescue operation, McGee said.

The fire was called in at 6:02 a.m. Fire companies from as far away as Gainesville responded.

Although heavy fire was showing, firefighters had reason to believe there were occupants inside the house, McGee said, and that there was the potential to make a rescue.

But high-speed winds gusted through windows that the fire blew out, feeding the flames and creating intensely dangerous conditions, McGee said.

Firefighters “made every effort to initiate a rescue,” but the fire continued to rapidly spread and firefighters were forced to evacuate when the structure began to collapse, McGee said.

Wilson, who graduated from Hylton in 2000, joined the department in January 2006, graduating from the recruit academy that June, said Fire Chief Mary Beth Michos.

“As a department, our grief knows no bounds,” Michos said in a prepared statement at a news conference held at McCoart Administration Center on Monday afternoon. “Despite all our efforts to provide the best training and equipment, there are still risks that our firefighters face everyday and that Technician Wilson faced this morning.”

McGee said he had a chance to get to know Wilson through his son, who attended recruit school with the Dale City resident, described Wilson as an “outstanding young man, who was one of the best of our best.”

In 2005, Wilson graduated from George Mason University’s Athletic Training Education Program, according to one of his former professors.

“He was a great kid and a fantastic man,” said Shane Caswell, who is the director of the athletic training program and taught Wilson. “I have no doubt he gave his life in service of others. I think that was very true to his character.”

Wilson is survived by his parents, brother, sister and girlfriend.

Michos, who personally notified Wilson’s family, said family members did not wish to comment on Monday.

Fire and rescue officials are still investigating the cause and origin of the fire, Michos said.

The Prince William County Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Montgomery County, Md., Fire Department are assisting in the investigation.

Another firefighter sustained burns during the fire, Michos said, but no other injuries were reported.

A fire chaplain was at the scene to provide support to firefighters, McGee said, adding that the department is prepared to provide additional counseling to staff members.

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