July 08--HAMILTON -- The Hamilton firefighter who was injured in a structure fire on the eve of Independence Day is "hobbling along," he told the Journal-News.
"Things could have been a lot worse," said Firefighter Brandon Hudson, who is temporarily on crutches after falling between two buildings and being wedged between the opposing walls.
Five fire engines, two medic units and one mutual aid unit responded on July 3 around 9:15 p.m. to a fire in a vacant building next to Chinese Lantern, 965 Main St.
Hudson, a 14-year veteran of the Hamilton Fire Department, was on his first shift back on the job after breaking a finger responding to a fire in June. He was on the roof of the Chinese restaurant attempting to vent the windows next door in the burning building to try and disperse the dark smoke filling the air before his injury.
"The window that we went to, there's a two-foot drop to another roof that's right in between the two buildings," Hudson said. "If you look down, it was probably about a five-foot roof, and there was about an 18-inch gap that we didn't know was there."
Hudson said he felt some softness in his toes before falling in between the buildings, with the bottom of his pack catching him on the roof and wedging him between the walls of the two buildings. His partner, Captain Jerry Glowka, called "mayday," indicating a firefighter is down, and several firefighters helped pull Hudson from the gap.
"I don't know whether it was a full story or a story and a half that I would have fallen, but I feel very fortunate because I could have dropped all of the way down," Hudson said.
He is waiting for MRI tests to determine the extent of his injuries, but said he had "no obvious fractures."
The vacant property, 967 Main St., was bought by the city of Hamilton last June for $22,500, according to the Butler County Auditor's website. It was acquired as a "key commercial property on the corridor that was blighted," according to city chief of staff Brandon Saurber. He said the city would be taking measures in the near future to decide what to do with the damaged property.
Damages to the property were estimated at $30,000, according to the Hamilton Fire Department's report. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, and arson has not yet been ruled out, according to fire officials.
Hamilton Police Detective Don Taylor, who is aiding in the investigation, said it was probably "some kids playing around."
"It doesn't look like anyone has been in here for quite a while," he said while surveying the damage to the property.
He encouraged anyone with information about the fire to contact the Hamilton Police Department at 513-868-5811, ext. 2002 or the Hamilton Fire Prevention Bureau at 513-785-7506.
Deputy Fire Chief Mark Mercer said the fire department has responded to 60 structure fires since Jan. 1; of those 60, seven were at vacant properties. The department responded to 100 structure fires in 2013; 31 of which were vacant properties.
He cited the Butler County Land Reutilitization Corp.'s efforts in demolishing blighted buildings as a reason for the reduction in responses to vacant building fires.
"The land bank has been pretty effective in demolishing these buildings," he said.
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