Porch Collapse Was Close Call for Nebraska Firefighters

ยป Video: Firefighters Hurt When Porch Collapses

OMAHA, Neb. -- The house fire during which two Omaha firefighters were injured on Thursday morning was in a condemned home that had been boarded up.

Crews were called to the area of 19th and Corby streets just before midnight and reported flames and smoke on approach.

A KETV NewsWatch 7 camera crew caught on camera two firefighters falling after the porch collapsed beneath them.

Two other firefighters were under the porch when it fell. They walked to a nearby rescue squad and had minor injuries.

Because the house was condemned, firefighters went into defensive mode and stayed outside to fight the blaze, according to Assistant Fire Chief Mark Rohlfing. He said the crew did everything right.

"These two individuals were actually on that porch roof to get some water in that front window, because most of the fire was in the upper section of the house," Rohlfing said.

Firefighters Mike Arnold and Adam Ostergaard were on the porch checking for more flames, Rohlfing said. When the structure came toppling down around them, they were trapped. Other crew members rushed to get them out.

"We were able to lift the roof up quickly. They were able to crawl out under their own power. They were checked over. They were taken to the emergency room and released back to duty," Rohlfing said.

The assistant chief said the roof may have collapsed because of the fire behind the wall, or problems with the house's structure. Regardless, he said, it was luck that brought the firefighters out alive.

"It just gives you that pit in your stomach, that fear, that, 'Oh my goodness. If that roof comes down wrong, those guys are in serious trouble,'" Rohlfing said.

Rohlfing said the accident served as a reality check for much of the crew -- a reminder that the unexpected is hard to prepare for.

"Obviously, our job is a very dangerous job and this is one of those instances where we have guys doing the work that they believe they need to do to put the fire out, and we have something sudden like this that happens and puts our guys in harm's way," he said.

Both firefighters will be back to work on Friday.

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