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Chicago Fire Capt. dies in apparent flashover

Investigators are trying to determine how the 32-year veteran died at a Friday night house fire

By FireRescue1 Staff

CHICAGO — Early indications are that a house on Chicago's south side flashed just after Capt. Herbert Johnson entered. He sustained second- and third-degree burns as well as damage to his lungs and airway and went into cardiac arrest; he died at the hospital.

Another firefighter suffered smoke inhalation, but he is reported to be in good condition, The Sun Times reported.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the fire was burning in the attic of the 2 ½-story house when firefighters arrived. CFD spokesman Larry Langford told the Tribune it is not yet clear if the house flashedover, but that appears to be the case.

"The problem was the damage is done internally from the super-heated air," Langford told the paper. "It compromised his airway and his lungs, and they (the doctors) made a valiant effort ... They worked an extended period of time in the ER ... above and beyond."

Johnson was 54 years old and leaves behind a wife and three children

"He touched everybody that ran into contact with him," Mayor Rahm Emanuel told ABC 7. "He was a larger than life person."

According to the Sun Times, Johnson had been promoted to captain this past summer and volunteered his time at a burn camp and put together a team of firefighters to go to New York after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He was also awarded the state's Medal of Honor in 2007 for bravery.

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