Four Pittsburgh Firefighters Injured in Backdraft


Three firefighters were injured while battling a scary blaze that included a quick backdraft early Thursday morning at a home in Pittsburgh's Greenfield neighborhood.

"It's over in a minute, but it seems like forever," Lt. Duke Mulvihill said.

Channel 4 Action News' Ashlie Hardway reported that the fire happened at an apartment house in the 1100 block of Greenfield Avenue.

"You could see the flame coming out of the front corner, and the right side of the house had a big orange glow right underneath the gutter," said police Officer Jeffrey Barone, who spotted the fire while on patrol.

"It's pitch black. You can't see anything at all -- absolutely nothing," said Mulvihill, who was in charge of leading five other firefighters to the third floor. "The heat just started getting worse and worse and worse."

The six firefighters decided to start backing off when, suddenly, there was something that Fire Chief Darryl Jones described as a "limited backdraft event" and three firefighters were burned, including Mulvihill.

"The heat was so tremendous, and then a little bit of air gets introduced, and it's like an explosion," Mulvihill said.

Hardway reported that the injured firefighters were taken to UPMC Mercy Hospital with first- and second-degree burns on their hands, faces and necks. A fourth firefighter was evaluated at the hospital after being shaken up.

The fire caused about $100,000 in damage and remains under investigation, Jones said.

People who live in the home escaped without injury and told Hardway that they're thankful for the firefighters. They also said the ceilings are caving in and they lost all their belongings in the fire.

"Woke up and was told that my house was on fire. I think it was worse than I thought because I didn't realize that everything was lost," Dawn Lorenz said.

There were reports that a second home caught fire in the area, but Hardway reported that it was smoldering debris from the first home that blew onto the second home. There was some exterior damage, but the second home did not catch on fire, Hardway reported.

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