As soon as we got back into cell phone/Internet from one of our stops in California we learn from many of regular readers of this morning’s collapse in Detroit that left 6 firefighters injured.
The latest from WDIV-TV on the injured has some grim news from the Detroit Fire Department:
Detroit Fire Commissioner James Mack said three were in critical condition and three were in fair condition, with one firefighter having been paralyzed from the waist down and another needing to be intubated.
• Lt. Gerald Rutkowski, 46, fair condition at St. John, headed to Troy Beaumont Hospital; 23 years with department
• Shane Raxter, 32, fair condition at St. John; 9 years with department.
• Brian Baulch, 31, critical at St. John, headed to Detroit Receiving; 9 years with department.
• Jeron Whitehorn, 30, treated at St. John and released; 8 years with department.
• Eric Jurmo, 31, critical at Detroit Receiving; 11 years with department.
• Brendan Milewski, 31, critical at Detroit Receiving; 11 years with department.
When a wall collapsed on Detroit firefighter Gerald (Razzy) Rutkowski as he fought a blaze on the city’s east side this morning, his older brother Tom was one of the people who dug him out from under the pile of bricks.
He then rode with him in the Detroit Fire Department squad car that raced him to St. John Hospital for treatment, as he bled profusely from his head.
Gerald Rutkowski, 46, is one of six firefighters seriously injured this morning, while battling a fire this morning that has devastated a retail building on East Jefferson on Detroit’s east side across from the Golightly Career and Technical School near Drexel
“I thought he was done,” Tom Rutkowski, 53, said, adding that his kid brother, a 26-year veteran of the DFD, apparently had broken his hip, pelvis and left foot.
Four firefighters are at St. John Hospital — three in critical but stable condition and one in intensive care – according to Jeffrey Pegg, a firefighter with Ladder 28 on the city’s west side and secretary of the Detroit Firefighters Association Local 344. Another two firefighters being treated at Detroit Receiving Hospital are “pretty seriously injured,” he said.
The firefighters were initially at the site on Jefferson near Drexel around 5:30 a.m., but left shortly before 7 a.m., believing they’d extinguished the blaze, Pegg said. However, they returned to the retail building around 7 a.m., because the fire had rekindled.
Squad 2’s Lt. Robert Tucker, who said the injured firefighters had “a long road ahead of them,” explained that the decision to leave the scene after the first blaze didn’t indicate a miscalculation. They’d been under the impression that the fire was out and something else happened to restart the fire
A brick façade collapsed on the firefighters around 7:20 a.m., Pegg said.
After the blaze started in the commercial strip, firefighters worked to prevent it from spreading to the vacant apartment building next door, according to Tom Rutkowski.
Several of them were pulling boards off the windows of the building, which may have been undergoing renovation, and then suddenly, several stories worth of exterior bricks rained down on the six firefighters.