Updated 4/13, 12:30p ET -- Two Houston, Texas firefighters -- a veteran captain with nearly 30 years experience and a probational firefighter with just a month in the field -- died early Easter morning battling a house fire.

During an aggressive interior attack of the one-story structure, command determined fire conditions were too intense and backed all crews out. During the post evacuation accountability check, the two firefighters were determined to be missing.

The victims have been identified as Captain James Harlow and Probationary Firefighter Damiem Hobbs.

Harlow, 50, had nearly 30 years on the job in Houston. He was the caption at Station 26 for the past five years.

Hobbs, 29, had just graduated from the Houston fire academy in March and was on his first assignment at Station 26 since March 7.

About the Victims
Captain James Harlow, 50, was hired by the HFD in August 1979 and has been a Captain at Fire Station 26 since 2004.
Probationary Firefighter Damien Hobbs, 29, graduated from the HFD Val Jahnke Training Facility on March 3, 2009, with Class 2008C, and began his first assignment at Station 26 on March 7.
Source: Houston Fire Dept,
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Mayday Called

A mayday was called, KHOU reported, but intense flames kept crews from going back in for search and rescue for some period of time. The exact timeline of the incident was not immediately available.

The Associated Press reported that the victim's bodies were found in the house between 1 a.m. and 1:30 a.m. Rescue workers attempted CPR but the men were pronounced dead at the scene.

The blaze was dispatched at 12:14 a.m. local time, according to the HFD's Active Incidents log. The first due companies were from Station 26, where an engine, ambulance, ladder company and District Chief responded from. Station 26 is about 1.2 miles from the scene of the blaze on Oak Vista.

KTRK reported that at 4:26am, Houston firefighters formed two lines outside of the home as the bodies of the fallen firefighters were removed from the scene by stretcher.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation as firefighters are providing their accounts of the incident to investigatiors. There were several reports that a resident of the home was rescued during the blaze, but additional information wasn't immediately available.

The fire gained intensity, according to KHOU, after crews cut a hole in the roof, reporting that after high winds may have fueled the spread of the blaze to a larger portion of the home.

Houston in Mourning Again

Houston firefighters are mourning the loss of two firefighters killed in a single blaze for the second time this decade. Tragically, those firefighters were also lost on a holiday -- Valentine's Day, 2000.

Firefighters Lewis Mayo, 44, and Kimberly Smith, 30, were killed when the roof of a burning McDonald's restaurant collapsed on them. Three teens were convicted of murder in the arson and burglary that started that blaze.

Including today's tragedy and the McDonald's blaze in 2000, there have been seven line of duty deaths in Houston in the last nine years, according to the Houston Fire Memorial site.

In 2001, Captain Jay Jahnke, a 20 year veteran of the Houston Fire Department, died while fighting a high rise fire located in the Galleria area. Firefighter Kevin Kulow was killed in 2004 while battling a building fire, also as a fire intensified and he was unable to escape the structure. Captain Grady Burke died in a 2005 house fire.

Rough Few Months for HFD

The Houston Fire Department has had a rough few months. Just Saturday, the civlian victim of a fire truck crash involving two responding Houston units died from her injuries, KHOU reported. Leigh Boone, 29, was removed from life support, some two weeks aftrer the March 30 crash. She was on a bicycle that was struck during the crash. The driver of the ladder truck involved in the accident was found at fault.. A total of 11 people, including nine firefighters and Boone, were hurt in the crash.

On November 3rd, 2008, the department had a close call at a house fire. Captain Darin Unruh, Station 39, was critically injured with third degree burns and smoke inhalation. STATter911 reported in December that he was recovering at home after spending over a month in the hospital.

Video Report from the Houston Chronicle

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Thoughts and prayers for families and all company personel involved.
My Department and myself are saddened when tragedies such as these happen. We wish to convey our deepest sympathies to the Houston Fire Department and to the families of these brave souls.

Mike Penick - Chief
condolences and prayers to the families. may they rest in peace.
Rest in peace. We will be praying for the family and the department.
Your brothers in Dallas Texas
my thoughts and prayers are with all involved
always sad to hear of another LODD! Thoughts and prayers are with the family
Jennifer, I don't think anyone could convey a prayer today any better than you have done.

This is the one call that I dread ever having to think about receiving. Two people I love dearly love, my husband a career fireman of 25+ years and my eldest son who is volunteering are always on my mind when they head out to do what God has called them to do. I cannot imagine the grief and can only pass on heart felt sympathy to the families. You are in my thoughts and prayers. The brotherhood of firefighters and their families, known and unknown, grieve along side these men and their families today.

May He always keep those who are willing to make the ultimate sacrafice to protect and serve us close at hand. Dear Father, we lift the families, of blood and of brotherhood, up to you as you bring home two more angels to watch over us all. I pray that you will be there to bring these families peace in knowing they are serving a greater calling and bring them to a place where they can heal over time. Amen.
God bless the firefighters, their families and their brothers and sisters in their department

Does anyone know how they were lost/trapped? Were they wearing their SCBAs? Any details yet? We live in a rural area with a small, virtually all volunteer (fire side, EMS staff are paid) department. I'd like to know more about what happened at the Houston fire for use in arguing with our "fire board" about the need for proper PPEs as well as written procedures and LOTS OF TRAINING. Our board is a group of newbies, all just elected. They don't have a clue about firefighting, are spending money like water in this economy on the showy, fancy stuff, rather than on equipment to protect the firefighters, and they strut around in public wearing their fire department baseball caps. The caps have lettering saying "FIRE/EMS" yet not one of our board members is a firefighter or is EMS trained. They're going to get someone killed.
This is very unfortunate my sympathy to the family and Houston FD. May you always continue to remember the sacrifice and honor him at Houston FD.
Rest in peace brothers . thoughts and prayer to the families
To the families and the crew of station 26 and the Houston Fire Dept. my thoughts and prayers go out to yall and may the Lord give you peace and strength to make it through this terrible loss. May God protect and watch over us all. God bless.

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