MINNEAPOLIS — Three firefighters are recovering and likely counting their blessings after a porch structure and roof collapsed on them while battling a house fire in Minneapolis Sunday.
Minneapolis Fire Department Assistant Chief Melanie Rucker says crews were dispatched to the 5500 block of 32nd Avenue South just before 5:15 p.m. on reports of fire showing from the rear of a home.
Arriving engine crews found flames leaping from the structure and were staging an interior attack on the residence when a rear porch and the roof above it collapsed, trapping three firefighters in the burning rubble. Fellow firefighters risked their own safety by staging a rescue.
"This is a thing you both prepare for and dread," said Deputy Fire Chief Kathleen Mullen. "The fire flashed over, all the gasses ignited at one time, and just after that we saw the roof begin to tilt and then it collapsed down. And we knew we had crews operating directly under that roof in the fire. When the roof came down the walls collapsed out, and the firefighters that were right there crawled into that void space and pulled them out."
All three firefighters caught in the collapse were taken to the hospital and treated for what the department called minor injuries. Reinforcements arrived on the scene when a second alarm was called and crews went back inside the home, eventually putting the fire down.
"It is the worst feeling you can have as part of the fire team standing outside, trying to ensure your safety," Deputy Chief Mullen reflected as she debriefed reporters following the incident. "They're in there doing what they love to do and are paid to do, and you're doing your very best to protect them from the bad things that can happened, even when you're doing all the right stuff."
Fire officials say two adults, two children and two cats were able to escape the fire, although one of the pets was revived on scene when crews gave it oxygen.
The home on 32nd Avenue South is considered a total loss. At this time investigators are trying to determine a cause.