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Mich. firefighter burned in flashover during rescue attempt

A Grand Rapids firefighter was burned while trying to rescue a person reportedly inside


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By Ryan Boldrey

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A firefighter and two other people were transported to an area hospital following a Thursday afternoon house fire.

The firefighter is presently undergoing treatment for mild to moderate second-degree burns Grand Rapids Fire Capt. William Smith told MLive/Grand Rapids Press, shortly after 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 14.

The firefighter, whose name is not being released at this time, is reportedly in good spirits and his family has been notified of his burns, Smith said.

The firefighter had entered the home, in the 500 block of Howard Street SE, to attempt a rescue, when he experienced a flashover event.

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“That’s about the worst thing you can experience,” Smith said. “The room flashed over and the fire quickly penetrated his fire protective ensemble and he was burned through his gear.

“It’s going to take him a little while to recover but, of course, we’re going to take care of whatever needs he has. He’s a pretty strong person and I have every confidence that he will return to full duty once he recovers from this injury.”

The initial call came in on the fire at 3:35 p.m. Thursday and firefighters were on scene at 3:38, a release states.

Heavy smoke was seen coming from the residence upon arrival and firefighters were told that an occupant of the home was still in the home and that she was wheelchair-bound.

Smith said firefighters made contact with the woman in the wheelchair on the porch and that, while getting her to safety, she alerted them that there was still another occupant inside the home.

Firefighters then went inside to conduct a search and that’s when the flashover happened, Smith said.

“When somebody says someone is still inside, we are going to go inside and we are going to search,” he said. “It doesn’t matter for us. If you think someone is in there and there’s a remote chance we can save them and make a rescue, then that’s what we are going to do.”

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Fortunately, he said, it was latter learned that the other occupant of the home had already safely evacuated the structure and was outside.

Both occupants were transported via ambulance to an area emergency room with unspecified injuries, Smith said. No updates are available for either occupant at this time, he said.

The fire has been extinguished and a GRFD fire investigator is on scene to determine the fire’s cause.

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