Family finds body of brother in fire debris, day after firefighters give the ‘all clear’

WHITE CITY, Ore. – A local family makes a horrifying discovery. Jackson County Fire District 3 said it cleared the scene of an RV fire on September 30 without discovering a body in the remains. The family found their loved one in the rubble the next day. Now the family is grieving after finding their loved one in debris after his RV was engulfed in flames.

“I just hope he didn’t suffer,” said Corrina Johanson, the victim’s sister.

Corrina said she and her brother Gary Ruddick had a bond like none other. Ruddick was living in White City when a fire broke out in his RV on September 30, 2021.

“We were told 3 different times that there was no one in the building,” said Corrina Johanson.

A day later, after firefighters gave the ‘all clear’ her husband went to see if there was anything salvageable. He found Ruddick and his dog Shiloh under a mountain of debris.

“When I realized it was him I was frantically pulling everything off of him,” said Kelly Johanson, “I begged that it was not real, but it was real”.

Now the family is asking Fire District 3 for answers.

“We’re not proud that this is the experience that our patrons had with our fire district,” said Fire District 3 Chief Robert Horton.

Horton said when his crews got on the scene the RV was already fully engulfed in flames. He said the conditions make it untenable for someone to survive that type of environment. Now he told NBC5 News his agency is doing an internal report on what went wrong but said he has a lot of questions himself.

“Did we miss something? Did we not provide protocol right? Is our protocol not appropriate for an environment like we saw where we catch the body and the situation it was found in,” said Chief Horton.

Chief Horton said at the time of the incident the people who reported the fire said no one was in the RV.

Ruddick’s family told NBC5 News they are happy the truth of the situation is told. They hope something like this never happens to anyone else again.

NBC5 News reporter Katie Streit comes from her hometown, Las Vegas. Katie went to the Hank Greenspun School of Journalism & Media Studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. While in Las Vegas, Katie won a Student Emmy for her coverage of the Las Vegas Shooting Anniversary. She also hosted and produced the university's political news show, where she interviewed Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak and Congresswoman Dina Titus (NV-1). Her passion for politics turned into a coveted internship at the US Capitol in Washington D.C. In her final months working in the Las Vegas area, she was recognized for her journalism achievements by the Nevada Broadcaster's Foundation. Katie is excited to tell the stories of local Southern Oregonians and Northern Californians. Feel free to contact her at [email protected]
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