As Camp Taylor firefighters responded on a mutual aid call in Fairdale on Sunday night, they had no idea that one of them would be sent to the hospital with severe burns.
Deputy Chief Steve Adkins said that when the extra alarm was sounded for a house fire on Minute Men Court, he didn't expect to get the call since they were located more than 15 minutes away.
When they arrived, the crew of five was ordered to go in from the first floor to attack the fire with a hose line. Adkins' was right behind his brother-in-law, Capt. Michael Long, who was the first one in.
Before entering the structure, Long checked the floor with his tool. It sounded good and there were no visible signs of fire penetrating through the floor. He was less than a foot in when it gave way, sending him more than 10 feet into the fully involved basement.
"There were no warning signs; no cracking, nothing," Adkins said. "We heard a 'whoosh' sound and the entire floor gave. It happened in seconds."
They would later find out that the homeowner had used the chemical acetone to stain the concrete floor of the basement and that the hot water heater switched on automatically, causing an explosion.
"I immediately started hitting him with the line," he said. "I kept spraying him and he kept screaming. I said 'We're coming for you.' "
Adkins yelled behind him for a ladder and his fellow crew members handed him one from the truck. He slid the ladder down the hole and went in for Long.
"By that time we lost all visibility," he said. "We just went into rescue mode. He was coming out and going home."
He was able to help Long up the ladder and, with the assistance of his crew, got him out of the house.
"It was pretty dramatic because he fell into the seat of the fire," he said. "It was like jumping into a frying pan."
Long was transported to the ICU of the University of Louisville Hospital with second and third degree burns to his legs. Adkins said he is listed in stable condition and is conscious and alert.
He never lost his mask and his turnout gear and PPE stayed fully intact during the fall, preventing further injuries, Adkins said.
Once Long was out, Adkins and his men went back into attack mode and it took more than two more hours to get the fire under control.
"It was just amazing how all three of us did what we did. We stayed with him the whole time," he said. "It was a very close call."