San Jose Firefighter Engulfed In Flames at 4-Alarmer

A veteran San Jose firefighter became engulfed in flames and suffered burn injuries to both hands, his waist and below his waist while battling a four-alarm blaze at a four-unit townhouse, according to a fire captain.

The firefighter fell through a portion of the roof that had been cut open to fight the blaze.

San Jose fire Capt. Mary Gutierrez said the injured firefighter suffered a serious burn to one hand and burns to his other hand, his waist and below his waist. The injured firefighter is being treated at a hospital.

Firefighters say the blaze at a townhouse on Underwood Drive might have turned fatal if not for a Good Samaritan who pulled a woman out of a lower-level unit. San Jose fire Capt. Mike Van Elgort credited a man with saving the life of a woman in the first-floor unit where the fire started.

The neighbor pulled the woman out of her home.

"He probably saved a life by getting her out before she had been overcome by smoke of flame," Van Elgort said.

Seventeen people, including eight children, were displaced by the fire which ripped through the townhouse on Underwood Drive, a street lined with similar residences off Boyton Avenue. Firefighters believe a candle left burning overnight in the downstairs unit caused the fire.

The injured firefighter fell halfway through the roof after the edge of the hole collapsed, Van Elgort said. The firefighter, who was wearing safety gear, became engulfed in flames.

The firefighter suffered serious burns to one hand, Van Elgort said.

"He is completely engulfed in fire," Van Elgort said.

The American Red Cross Silicon Valley chapter responded to the scene of the fire and will be providing the displaced families with food, clothing and shelter.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service