Word from the Medstar Burn Unit of the Washington Hospital Center is that Bladensburg VFD Firefighter Ethan Sorrell and Firefighter Kevin O'Toole remain in critical but stable condition. Sorrell has respiratory burns and O'Toole has second and third degree burns over 40% of his body.
As we reported earlier, O'Toole and Sorrell both requested that the annual Bladensburg VFD banquet on Saturday continue as planned. We are told that Firefighter O'Toole was able to visit the event via Skype.
Riverdale VFD Firefighter Michael McClary went home Saturday afternoon. The picture above and the information below is from the Riverdale VFD website:
Firefighter Michael McClary was released from the hospital this afternoon. He is still suffering from his injuries sustained when crewmembers were forced to make a hasty retreat from a house fire at 6404 57th Ave. in Riverdale Heights when fire conditions coupled with high wind gusts caused fire to envelop the crews from E807B and TK809 upon entry to the house. It is believed that another firefighter fell on top of FF McClary, who suffered bruised ribs and cartilage damage.
PGFD Chief Mark Bashoor and Bladensburg Chief Randy Kuenzli are interviewed in the TV stories on this page about the firefighters and the fire on Friday evening on 57th Avenue.
Strong winds were gusting out of the west at the time — “up to 40, 45 mph,” said the chief. They were blowing directly at — and into — the burning basement, which had a west-facing door.
“As soon as the guys opened the front door and advanced, it blew from the basement, up the steps and right out the front door,” Bashoor said. “It was like a blowtorch coming up the steps and out the door.”
The entire incident — “from the time they were in the door until they were burned” — took eight seconds, the chief said.
The firefighters inside the house “did everything they were trained to do,” he said, but they were essentially defenseless.
“Without that wind, the hot air and gases would have been venting out of the rear of the house,” he said. “The current of air essentially produced a chimney right up the steps and out the front door.”