City firefighter is rescued from fiery building Man is trapped under debris at apartment house in Govans

February 06, 1992|By John Rivera and David Michael Ettlin

A Baltimore firefighter was trapped for 40 minutes under debris and furniture before being rescued late last night from a burning apartment house in Govans.

He and five other firefighters suffered minor injuries.

All occupants of the four apartments escaped without injury.

Investigators said a child playing with matches ignited the three-alarm fire, which burned out a small, two-story frame apartment building on Winston Avenue, just off the 5100 block of York Road in the northside neighborhood.

The firefighters were treated at area hospitals. Two were hurt when the building's second floor collapsed under their feet and sent them sliding with debris and furniture past the burned-out first floor and into the basement.

One got to his feet and escaped, but Firefighter Bill Hennick was pinned under the debris as well as under a heavy beam and furniture. After the blaze was under control, firefighters used an inflatable air bag to lift the beam and free him.

Sitting in a stretcher in the back of an ambulance, Firefighter Hennick said that two firefighters had been standing in front of him and that there had been "a lot of smoke, a lot of fire, and all of a sudden it went and we all ended up buried under all this debris.

"I had a bed on top of me."

The first alarm came at 10:22 p.m., and additional men and equipment were dispatched over the next hour and a half -- initially because the fire was proving difficult to extinguish as flames burned through interior wooden walls. Shortly before midnight, extra men were needed to help rescue Firefighter Hennick.

Firefighters arriving on the first alarm used a ladder to enter the second floor and search for residents after being told some children might be trapped.

However, none were found, and firefighters determined that all residents of the building's four apartments had gotten out safely.

Another team of three firefighters, sent inside the building to battle the flames, was on the second floor when the collapse occurred, officials said.

Firefighter Hennick's worst injuries appeared to be bruises; two other men were cut by nails, one injured an ankle, another a knee, and theOsixth man complained of chest pains, officials said.

They were being treated early today at Good Samaritan and Mercy hospitals.

Damage to the building and contents was estimated at more than $100,000.

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