Grand Rapids – A Grand Rapids firefighter was hospitalized after a house fire turned into a dangerous backdraft situation.
At 1:45 this afternoon, firefighters were inside a home in the 300-block of Indiana Avenue SW and the whole place lit up in flames.
Firefighters say it looked like a routine situation. They went in the front door, not knowing that the fire was so hot that the added oxygen would actually cause the smoke to ignite.
Eric VandenBerg witnessed the fire, “It’s pretty amazing you don’t know what is going on, at first. I noticed there were flames coming out of the top corner of the house. I had my cell phone right here so I called right here.”
VandenBerg’s 911 call brought Grand Rapids firefighters to his neighbor’s home. “There was smoke coming out of the windows and it was pretty bad,” VandenBerg said.
Fire crews had to be sure no one was inside. They had to go in.
Battalion Chief Jerry Salatka said, “They were doing a search of the building along with the fire attack. At that time, the whole house basically flashed over. Fire basically lit up in every room at the same time. We had two to three guys go out of a window and another two or three come out of the front door.”
One firefighter bailing out a first floor window hurt his back and went to the hospital. But that would be the only injury.
The family that lives at the home was away when the fire broke out. They returned to find their dog died in the fire and their house is destroyed.
VandenBerg said, “I feel horrible for them. I wanted to help but I couldn’t do anything.”
We’re told the firefighter that was injured is a 13 year veteran of the force. He was released from the hospital just before 5 p.m. and will be back on the job next week.