1. #1
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    01/13/03 - Posted 12:04:00 AM from the Daily Record newsroom

    Firefighters rescue girl from Mendham blaze
    By Chris Gosier, Daily Record

    A 3-year-old girl was critically injured Sunday evening in a fire that heavily damaged her family's home and drew a massive firefighter response from surrounding townships.

    The girl, whose name wasn't released, was taken to Morristown Memorial Hospital at about 6:25 p.m. after two firefighters found her under the bed in a second-floor bedroom.

    Rescue workers were performing CPR on the child as she was loaded into an ambulance. From Morristown Memorial, the child was taken by helicopter to Jacobi Medical Center in New York City, authorities said.

    The fire began in the kitchen, but the cause was still being investigated Sunday night.

    Firefighters responded at about 6 p.m. to find the girl's parents and their two other children on the front lawn of the house, fire officials said. They hadn't been able to find the 3-year-old when leaving the house.

    "They had no idea where she was," said another firefighter, William Taquinto, one of two men who searched the home using thermal imaging devices to make their way through the thick, black smoke. The family dog also was rescued.

    No other family members or firefighters were injured. The two other children were staying with neighbors, Eible said. The parents were identified as Edward and Margaret Metzler by the Morris County Prosecutor's Office.

    The home at 85 Mountain Ave. was burning for about 45 minutes to an hour, Mendham Fire Chief Joe Eible said. He estimated that about 60 firefighters responded from departments in Chester and the Mendhams. Mendham's first aid squad also responded, as did arson investigators from the Morris County Prosecutor's Office.

    Arson investigators respond to any residential fire that causes injuries, Mendham Police Chief Patricia Cameron said.

    The fire was confined to the kitchen, but caused smoke damage to the rest of the house, Eible said. A few flames made it to the second floor, he said.

    Luckily, the Mendham fire department already was suited up at the borough park nearby, conducting a Christmas tree burn, said Joseph Devine, chief of investigations for the Morris County Prosecutor's Office.

    "When the fire call came in, everybody was already in their gear, so they simply drove from the park to the residence," he said. "That rescue effort was extremely quick because they were just a short distance away."

    After hearing screams, one neighbor said, "We came out and the whole back of the house was on fire."

    "(The mother) was screaming her baby was inside," said the neighbor, who didn't want to be named.

    Chris Gosier can be reached at cgosier@gannett.com or (973) 428-6667 .

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    Congrats to the men and women of the Mendham Fire Dept. Your training paid off and you all should be proud.

    Let our thoughts and prayers go to the little girl and her family during this difficult time.

  3. #3
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    Congrats, there is no feeling like saving a life.

    I pray for a speedy recovery little one.
    Proud to be IACOJ Illinois Chapter--Deemed "Crustworthy" Jan, 2003

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    Flanders, NJ


    01/14/03 - Posted 11:57:40 PM from the Daily Record newsroom

    Mendham girl dies of injuries
    3-year-old succumbs to smoke inhalation
    By Rob Jennings, Daily Record

    MENDHAM - The three-year-old girl found by a firefighter hiding under a bed in her burning home Sunday night died Monday at Jacobi Medical Center in New York City.

    Julia Metzler, 3, was pronounced dead at 6:45 p.m. The cause of death was smoke inhalation, according to Morris County Prosecutor's Office spokesman Lt. Jeffrey Paul.

    The toddler was found by Mendham firefighter William Taquinto using a heat-detecting sensor. She was rushed to Morristown Memorial Hospital and later helicoptered to Jacobi, authorities said.

    An obviously saddened Taquinto Monday night could say only that he was, "Sorry we couldn't have found her faster."

    Earlier Monday, investigators said a candle may have sparked the fire, although a cause had not officially been determined by Monday evening, according to the Prosecutor's office. Investigators "are looking at the possibility that a candle" led to a the blaze that seriously damaged the house at 85 Mountain Ave., Chief of Investigations Joseph Devine said through a spokesman.

    Julia's mother, Margaret Metzler, escaped the blaze with her two other children, an 8-year-old boy and 5-year-old girl.

    The parent was given oxygen at the scene, but she and her two other children were not injured, said Lt. Paul.

    County Prosecutor Michael Rubbinnacio early Monday had said the youngest child was rescued "due to the heroic efforts of (firefighter) Taquinto."

    The child's mother told firefighters that she mistakenly thought her youngest child had been running from the home with her two siblings.

    "She thought they had all followed her out the door," said Taquinto, a 7-year firefighter.

    Taquinto used a 9-pound thermal imaging device to locate the unconscious girl under her bed on the second floor after a frantic search lasting about 10 minutes.

    Taquinto, in a Monday afternoon interview, said he first checked the kitchen, where the girl's mother said she last saw her daughter, and then the nearby basement. He then checked the girl's bedroom, where her slumped form was clearly visible through the lens.

    "When you go through the (county fire training) academy, they teach you that nine times out of ten, the child will be in a closet or underneath their bed," he said.

    By coincidence, Taquinto, an employee of Mendham's public works department, and other Mendham firefighters had been in a nearby field Sunday evening, overseeing the disposal of Christmas trees, when they received the fire call.

    Taquinto said he had used the device - purchased in 1999 for about $16,000 - previously to locate hot spots in walls, but never to locate a missing person. Without it, he said he never would have been able to spot the fallen child.

    He spoke of the "urgency" that sets in during such searches.

    "Just knowing from your training, that you're on a time limit, and it's not that much time," he said.

    Edward Metzler, who earlier left to pick up dinner for his family, pulled up in his car just as the first fire trucks were reaching the scene, said Mendham Fire Chief Joe Eible.

    The blaze was brought under control in about an hour. One Mendham firefighter was treated for a minor hand injury, Eible said. Approximately 60 firefighters from Chester, Mendham Township's Ralston and Brookside departments, and Mendham responded to the scene.

    Rubbinaccio announced that smoke detectors in the house had been in working order and were activated by the blaze.

    On Monday morning, two Mendham police officers kept watch over the home, which was cordoned off in yellow tape. A baby swing was visible suspended from a front yard tree limb.

    Officials said the house sustained significant heat and smoke damage. The fire was mostly confined to the kitchen but a few flames made it to the second floor, Eible said.

    According to the borough tax assessor's office, the Metzlers bought their home in 1995.

  5. #5
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    Rest in peace Julia....
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

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    May God bless your soul Julia.

  7. #7
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    Flanders, NJ


    Sometimes, the casualties keep mounting. Keep this brother in your prayers.


    Self-doubts surround rescuer after girl's death

    Wednesday, January 15, 2003

    Star-Ledger Staff

    Mendham firefighter William Taquinto struggled not to think about it yesterday, but questions tormented him the day after the little girl he pulled from a burning house died.

    He wondered: Should he have first looked for the girl upstairs instead of in the basement? Could he have searched faster and found her sooner? Does he still want to be a firefighter?

    "Do I want to go through this again?" the 25-year-old volunteer firefighter and borough road department worker wondered. "When I joined the department, I knew this was a possibility. I know it sounds horrible, but I don't think it would bother me as much had it been someone my age and older. But this was a little girl who died before she had a chance to live."

    Nearly 24 hours after Taquinto carried 3-year-old Julia Metzler out of her family's burning Mountain Avenue home Sunday, she died at Jacobi Medical Center in New York City. The time was 6:45 p.m. Monday.

    The death has rippled through the town of 5,097, which last grappled with a fatal fire seven years ago, authorities said.

    "This has devastated people. They lost a little girl and it's not fair," Fire Chief Joe Eible said.

    Funeral services for Julia will be Friday morning at the First Presbyterian Church of Mendham on Hilltop Road. Visitation is tomorrow from 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. at the Bailey Funeral Home, 8 Hilltop Road.

    Authorities are trying to determine what triggered the fire and whether a candle possibly ignited the blaze.

    The girl's parents, Margaret and Edward Metzler, and brother and sister ran out of the house after the fire started in the kitchen at dinnertime, Eible said. The Metzlers thought Julia was right behind them, but she wasn't.

    As firefighters battled the flames, three two-man teams equipped with thermal imaging cameras searched for the girl through thick black smoke inside the house. Taquinto scanned the first floor first, descended into the basement, backtracked and headed upstairs, crawling on his knees inside one of the bedrooms, keeping his eyes on the dark monitor of the heat-sensitive camera. Suddenly, he saw the white image on the screen. It was the girl.

    Taquinto, who was inside the home for 10 minutes, said, "I pulled her out from under the bed and cradled her and said, 'We got her,' and shot down the stairs and out the front door."

    Twenty-five minutes had elapsed before Julia was located. She was unconscious and limp. She was transported to Morristown Memorial Hospital and was flown to Jacobi Medical Center.

    On Monday, firefighters had heard that her condition was improving. But about 8 p.m., department Chaplain Mike Drury pulled Taquinto aside at the firehouse and told him the girl had died.

    "It was upsetting," Taquinto said. "I am thinking that if we would have only gone upstairs first, that would have been enough time to save her ... I'm thinking about what I could have done differently. She was a little kid and little kids think that (under their parents' bed) is a safe zone. But we didn't look up there first. We went downstairs. We followed orders."

    Morristown firefighter Jonathan Prachthauser knows what Taquinto is going through. In 1999, he and two other firefighters pulled a 27-year-old hearing-impaired woman from a burning house in town. The woman later died.

    "To this day I still think about it. It's kind of always there. At first I wondered could I have been quicker? You question everything," Prachthauser, a 17-year department veteran, said, noting he found a way to deal with her death. He focused on her family's ability to donate the woman's organs.

    "We went in there to rescue one woman. We ended up helping a lot of other people who needed a heart, kidneys and organs," he said.

    Eible said Taquinto is a good firefighter. It is in his blood. His father was a firefighter. Two cousins, two uncles and his older brother still are. Taquinto signed up in the borough in 1999, but started volunteering in Chester at 18.

    The chief said Taquinto has talked to the fire chaplain and will sit down with a team of firefighters, emergency workers and police who provide what is called "critical incident stress counseling."

    "He is a stand-up young man," Eible said. "We are just trying to reaffirm that he did the right thing. He got that little girl out alive and gave that girl's family one more day with her."

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