Brother helps soldier replace belongings lost in Camp Udairi fire
CAMP UDAIRI, Kuwait — Marine Staff Sgt. Brian Yount received an e-mail Tuesday from Texas saying his brother, Army Staff Sgt. Kenneth Yount, narrowly escaped a fiery inferno at his camp in the Kuwaiti desert.
About 2:15 p.m. Tuesday, fire swept through three empty festival tents and a smaller tent where soldiers from the Fort Hood-based 62nd Engineer Battalion were making morale calls home.
Brian, 34, learned from his sister-in-law, Wendy, at Fort Hood, that his brother literally had only the shirt left on his back. Luckily, the two brothers were only a few miles apart.
At Camp Fox, Brian packed some supplies and headed to Camp Udairi, about 25 miles north of Kuwait City. He found his sibling sifting through a pile of charred equipment in the remains of an Army tent.
“Here’s a pair of clean drawers,” Brian said, passing his brother fresh underwear and a handful of other new clothes. “I’m sure you could use them.”
Other soldiers stopped by, offering clothes and gear. A sergeant major from the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division collected donations from his soldiers and came over with armfuls of assistance for the engineers.
“That was just awesome,” Kenneth Yount, 36, said. “We really appreciated that.”
While the brothers enjoyed their reunion, their thoughts turned to two more brothers still serving in Iraq. Their older half-brother, Marine Sgt. Mike Roberts, is assigned to the 4th Light Armored Recon near the Iranian border. Younger half-brother Army Pfc. Jonathan Kreuster, 20, serves with the 101st Airborne Division’s field artillery.
Meanwhile, several teams of fire investigators nailed down the fire’s start point. Five local workers, detained because they may have been cooking in the area, were questioned and released.
“Smoking was the cause of the fire,” said Sgt. Brady Brever, 31, of Racine, Wis., who investigated the blaze. “Someone thought the shaded area behind the tent was a good place to hunker down and have a cigarette.”
One soldier was slightly burned running from the tent.
Lt. Col. Pete Bosse, the camp’s mayor, spoke with leaders Wednesday morning about the fire. Already, there are plans to rebuild the large tents, which were slated to house an Internet cafe, phone center and a large-screen television.
“We’re starting from scratch, so there’s going to be a delay,” Bosse said.
A second fire began Tuesday about 4 p.m., at a designated smoking point where 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division soldiers live.
A cardboard box caught fire and the blaze was quickly extinguished.
A mound of boxes, bags and water bottles — several days’ worth of trash — had built up where the soldiers are told they can smoke, Brever said.