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Toledo Fire Department issues report on man's body found after demolition of burned apartment building. Provides details of search done after initial evacuation order.

Read Toledo Fire Department report

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The Toledo Fire Department issued a brief report after investigating how a January 13 fire in an apartment building was handled. The report was ordered following the discovery of the body of 35-year-old Delano Fleming after the 12-unit building was demolished. The fire was reported at 3:45 AM at 3125 Meadowbrook Court.

According to the report, the fire started on the second floor and was rapidly extending to the third floor and attic. Firefighters rescued four children and an adult from the second floor and conducted a "high risk search" of the third floor without water. An adult on the third floor was also brought out safely.

A first floor search had not been completed when the order to evacuate came at 4:07. Left unchecked were apartment 37 and apartment 38, where Fleming lived. Firefighters were given indication by neighbors that everyone was accounted for but went back into the building after new information was received. Details from the Toledo Blade:

While the building was still burning, crews were told that “someone may be in the apartment on the left,” which was apartment 37.

Two firefighters and the on-scene commander went into the building to search 37. One firefighter went into 38 — which had an open door, the report states.

“It was dark and he [the firefighter] felt some heat in the hall near the bedrooms. He was unable to see any furniture from his position due to the darkness,” the report, prepared by Deputy Chief Gary Martin, states. “He did not search the apartment because of the belief that everyone was accounted for and they were inside to check apartment 37.”

“At that time, we still didn’t have any information that anyone else was missing, other than to go back after they were pulled out to check 37,” said Lieutenant Hertzfeld.

Below is earlier news coverage of this story.

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Comments - Add Yours

  • Fire21

    They rescued 6 people as it was, and all indications were that no-one else was in there.  When word finally did come that someone "may be in" #37, the evacuation order had already been given for the firefighters.  At greak risk to themselves, they did search 37 and found no-one.  Improper information led to search of the wrong apartment.
    That one guy thinks they should have done a better search?…How about he joins the Department and learns how to do it.  How about he stops criticizing the Dept, and instead criticize the building neighbors who never even thought about Mr Fleming until virtually after the fact!
    Perfect results would be nice at every call, but we seldom achieve perfection.  20/20 hindsight says yes, they should have done things differently, but at the time, you do what you judge to be the right thing.

  • AbsoluteReality

    Not killing a couple of Firemen.!!!
    We’re  supposed to die, you know.!!!
    DARN.!!  We sure missed an opportunity to have one
    of those grand funerals with all the pomp, Class-As,
    long lines of shinny apparatus, flags for the widows and orphans….
    What a waste …
    What were those Chiefs thinking!!!

  • MichiganFF

    The building was demolished 3.5 hours after catching fire?  How do you even do a proper fire investigation in that amount of time?

  • Truckie88

    I was never a believer in Emergency Demolition. Some cities like Bflo bring in the demo crews b4 the hoses are picked up. Throw a locked fence around the site & let the eye sore stand. Its great training to walk thru a fire building the day after to see it with clear head.

    • Anonymous

      It's a bad decision to leave damaged structure standing.  These buildings are unstable, no one should be inside them.  We definitely would not go back in after thousands of gallons of water are thrown on to a fire structure.  It's terrible training, good training is walking through the structures before they catch fire.  after the fact, its too late!

  • Ken Henke

    Sounds like they did everything they could have done. They even went above and beyond the call of duty to find him. Unfortunately, it's the nature of the business. However hard we try, we can't save them all.

  • dadman

    Was the body found in collapse rubble, or demolition rubble?
    Why so quick to demolish?

  • R2

    Finding a body in the rubble of a hastily demolished building is not a desirable outcome. After reading the Post Incident Review, a few things jump out at me:
    1. This is why we do not generally rely on citizens/bystanders/neighbors reports to indicate the building is "all clear" of any occupants. One Toledo FD Lieutenant states, "We rely on primarily the folks that live in that structure or neighbors nearby". If this is Toledo FD policy, they should seriously rethink the problem. 
    2. The company assigned primary search duties picked up a nozzle to attack the fire. This was not positively communicated to the Incident Commander. 
    3. Even after getting more "neighbor information" that someone may be in Apt. 37 only one firefighter was sent to search that unit and an actual search of that unit was never completed. 
    4. Even after knowing that no search, primary or secondary, had been done in parts of the building, a decision was made to hastily bulldoze the structure.
    I think the Toledo FD should take a long, hard look at this incident and learn from it.

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