Va. firefighter falls through commercial roof

The firefighter fell through an addiction center's roof to his waist; other firefighters rescued him by placing a ladder beneath him


By Jonathan Black and Michele Canty
The Daily Press 

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — A Newport News firefighter fell through the roof of a building on fire while battling a blaze at a substance abuse center in the city's Southeast Community.

Shortly after 11 a.m., crews arrived near the intersection of 35th Street and Chestnut Avenue to find smoke emitting from a building behind Refuge Nation Church.

Firefighters ventilated the building from the roof, working to free the heat and smoke from the blaze.

There, a firefighter fell through the roof to his waist. Crews were able to lift him through the structure by placing a ladder underneath, said Battalion Chief Stephen Pincus.

After his fall, firefighters were ordered off the roof, because it was too dangerous, Pincus said.

The firefighter was taken to a local physician to be checked for injuries.

An hour after the fire was reported, crews extinguished the blaze, which gutted the substance abuse and addiction alliance center owned by Gethsemane Baptist Church, Pincus said.

Firefighters were on the scene for several hours, opening walls and ceilings to check for hidden pockets of fire.

Because the center is church owned, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms was notified, and will investigate what caused the blaze. The building was condemned.

Investigators from the Fire Marshal's Office ruled the fire's cause was accidental, and attribute it to a malfunction in a wall heater.

Dwight Riddick, the pastor at Gethsemane Baptist Church, said the church has been running the center on 37th Street for about two years.

"People who would normally meet there don't have a place to go now," he said. "Our church is open but this place is more convenient for the people that need assistance."

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(c)2016 the Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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