Three of the four firefighters hurt while fighting a fire on Butler Avenue Thursday night have been released from the hospital.
One other is still being treated at Erie County Medical Center and is in stable condition with third degree burns on parts of his body.
All four were burned to varying degrees, and two of them also suffered smoke inhalation. Officials say one of the firefighters suffered serious burns on his hands and wrist when he removed his glove, in an attempt to activate his man down or “mayday” button on his gear,
Fire officials say three people were in the house at the time of the fire, and they all got out of the house safely before crews arrived at the scene.
The fire started in the attic. City of Buffalo Spokesperson Mike DeGeorge told reporters that the cause of the fire appears electrical.
Division Chief Paul Graham said that’s where the firefighters were hurt. He said there was little to no ventilation in the attic, and that caused a buildup of extreme heat and steam, which burned the firefighters.
“It’s unusual to have so many people burned, but it was mostly steam burns in the enclosed attic space. It can get through the thermal envelope [through their protective gear], and that’s mostly what happened,” said Graham.
“He got separated from the line and got disoriented,” said Buffalo Fire Commissioner William Renaldo of the most seriously injured firefighter.
Renaldo said he was able to speak to the injured firefighter at the hospital this morning.
“He was physically exhausted at that point because he couldn’t find his way back out of the attic.”
Unable to send out a mayday signal, Renaldo said the firefighter, who the department had not publicly identified as of Friday afternoon, relied on his training in order to save his own life.
“He got down in a prone position and tried to exercise shallow breathing to extend his air supply and stay there till help arrived and it did quickly.”
According to Renaldo, other firefighters found their fallen comrade within a couple of minutes, and one of them was then able to send out the mayday call.
“The crews were able to react very well and professionally and actually rescue our firefighter and get him out and they saved his life,” Renaldo said.
“[They had to] keep everything calm, keep everything as orderly as we possibly can because if there’s panic, nobody is going to be assisted. Just keep calm and do what we have to do. We still have an operation to carry out while we still do a rescue operation at the same time,” said Graham.
Firefighters estimate there is about $225,000 in total damages to the home and contents.