Lexington firefighter honored for saving lives during pipeline explosion

Lexington Firefighter Colby Reik, Firefighter Cross recipient for his heroic actions while off-duty during Lincoln County pipeline explosion and fire on 8-1-19

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Lexington Firefighter Colby Reik received the Firefighter Cross, for his act of heroism, bravery and stamina following a pipeline explosion and fire in Lincoln County last summer.

The Firefighter Cross is the second highest award bestowed by the Lexington Fire Department.

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Below is the Lexington Fire Department’s account of Firefighter Reik’s heroic actions the night of the disaster:

It is said that a firefighter is never off-duty. That statement could not have been more true at 1:20 a.m. on August 1, 2019 in Lincoln County for Lexington Firefighter Colby Reik.

A thirty inch high pressure gas line had failed. The first reports were that a plane had crashed but the calls kept coming in. The fireball could be seen from as far away as Bardstown and UK hospital.

Off-Duty Firefighter Reik, alerted to the call, left his home, jumped in his cruiser and drove towards the scene. The initial details of the rapidly evolving scene were sketchy at best.

Emergency crews were doing their best to awaken and evacuate surrounding residences when the report of someone being trapped and unable to escape came in.

Firefighter Reik drove into the neighborhood. As the heat intensified, he began to turn away when he noticed the man had fallen on his own deck. His home had fire coming through windows and the flames were increasing. He drove closer, grabbed the man and pushed him into the back of his car. The roar of the fire was great but he was able to make out the man yelling,”My wife is inside!” Colby turned and went inside. Quickly he was able to locate the second victim, drag her out and push her into his car. Driving quickly away he took them to an awaiting Paramedics who transported them to the hospital. He then returned to check for more survivors.

This fire destroyed six structures, killed one person and multiple people were transported to the hospital with burns, including Firefighter Reik.

Firefighter Reik went willingly into a situation that he could have very likely not come out of, resulting in two lives saved.


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Tom Kenny joined ABC 36 News in June of 2001 as a General Assignment Reporter. A native of Peoria, Illinois, he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Western Illinois University. He currently anchors ABC 36 News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm. Tom has more than three decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He is the only broadcast journalist in Lexington television history to be honored with a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Tom was recognized for reporting on a story that gave a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of the Federal Witness Protection Program. He has won an Emmy Award for anchoring and another for investigative reporting, exposing the deceit and potential danger of online diploma mills. Tom has ten other Emmy nominations to his credit for investigative and feature reporting. He has won Associated Press Awards for reporting and anchoring. He has won two Addy Awards for excellence in promotional writing. Tom was the first broadcast journalist in Lexington TV history to be awarded the Silver Circle Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is one of the highest honors given by NATAS. It recognizes television professionals who have performed distinguished service within the television industry for 25-years or more. Tom was honored for more than his longevity, he was recognized for making an enduring contribution to the vitality of the television industry and for setting high standards of achievement. He was also recognized for giving back to the community as a mentor, educator and volunteer. Tom also has network broadcast experience in radio and television having worked as a sports reporter for ESPN, Sportschannel, NBC Sports and the Breeders’ Cup. He was also the studio host and halftime producer for CBS Radio Sports’ College Football Game of the Week and covered the NFL for One-On-One Radio Sports. Prior to joining WTVQ-TV, Tom was Vice-President of the Houston Astros Minor League baseball team in Lexington. He was part of the original management team that brought professional baseball back to the Bluegrass after a nearly 50-year absence. Tom has lived in Lexington since 1984. In that time, he has been heavily involved with dozens of charity and civic groups, with a special emphasis on helping Veterans. He can be reached at tkenny@wtvq.com. You can also follow Tom on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomKennyABC and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.