Six Detroit Firefighters Injured When Roof, Wall Collapse in Burning Building
08/16/2010 // West Palm Beach, FL, USA // Sandra Quinlan // Sandra Quinlan
Detroit, MI—Six firefighters suffered various injuries when a wall collapsed as they battled a blaze in a retail building on Detroit’s east side Friday morning, August 13, 2010. Fire personnel were dispatched to the scene after a fire they believed was extinguished somehow reignited, according to information provided by the Detroit Free Press.
Reports indicated members of the Detroit Fire Department (DFD) responded to the scene of the fire for the first time around 5:30 a.m. Fire crews worked to put of the fire until shortly before 7 a.m., when they believed they had completely extinguished the inferno. Lt. Robert Puckett, 50, was hospitalized for unspecified injuries sustained in the blaze. He has since been released.
However, the flames began to spread only moments after fire crews left the area. While they subsequently returned to the scene, something went wrong as they fought the blaze. A roof collapse seemingly caused a brick wall to fall onto the firefighters, trapping several underneath the rubble.
Detroit firefighter Gerald (Razzy) Rutkowski, 46, became pinned beneath the bricks as he worked to extinguish the incessant flames. His 53-year-old brother Tom Rutkowski quickly jumped into action to dig him out from the under the bricks.
“I thought he was done,” Tom Rutkowski said, adding that his younger brother fractured his hip, pelvis, foot and several ribs in the incident. Rutkowski was rushed to Beaumont Hospital and listed in serious condition as of Friday night.
The most seriously injured firefighter was believed to be 31-year-old Brendan Milewski. Fellow firefighters alleged Milewski might have been paralyzed as a result of the wall collapse. He was listed in critical condition at Detroit Receiving Hospital.
Also injured in the accident were Shayne Raxter, 37, who suffered a broken leg and has since been released; Jeron Whitehorn, 30, who was treated for undisclosed injuries and released; Brian Baulch, 31, who was being treated for critical injuries at St. John on Friday night; and Eric Jurmo, 31, who was also listed in critical condition at Detroit Receiving Hospital.
Injuries sustained in the incident included “broken bones, head wounds and spinal-cord injuries.”
Arson investigations are expected to be underway.
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