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Raleigh blaze ignites bond of firefighting father and son

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Raleigh firefighters who happen to be father and son both responded to the downtown blaze (WTVD)

Serving the City of Raleigh for 17 years, Scott White, Battalion Chief with the Raleigh Fire Department, officially welcomed his son Matthew into the 'family business' six months ago, never imagining that his first big test would be Raleigh's largest fire in nearly a hundred years.

"I keep up with him," said Scott. "When he was dispatched I knew he was going to a fire and then listened as it escalated."

Just after 10 p.m. on March 16, Matthew and his fellow firefighters at Station 1 in downtown got the call; his engine was the second to show up at the six-story construction site of the Metropolitan Apartments where flames were already ripping through the wood structure.


"It's something that we train to do, so didn't have much time to really think," said Matthew who quickly began running, hooking up hoses.

In the meantime, all Scott could do was listen to radio calls as he worked behind-the-scenes logistics, taking care of the rest of the city while sending resources Matthew's way.

"It was a challenge," said Scott. "You worry about him, you worry about his crew, they're all together."

There were tense moments, especially when that crane came crashing down, somehow missing the firefighters.

"My captain was paying attention," said Matthew. "He was my eyes at that point."

Back at home, Scott's wife, Matthew's mom, was helplessly watching it all unfold on the news.

"I sent her a text after everything calmed down and told her we were good," said Scott before admitting with a laugh that even he didn't know for sure whether both of them were good.

Finally, 12 hours after that first call came in, Matthew was reunited with his dad and knew that he had passed that first big test.

"Normal," he said with a smile, describing their interaction. "Just head nod, glad to see you, you know, fortunate; really just thankful we're both able to come back just like the rest of the firefighters."

Both Scott and Matthew White are giving credit to their fellow firefighters and all first responders, including the 911 operators, police and EMS, for keeping the city safe.

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