North Georgia Firefighter Goes Down While Battling A House Fire

CATOOSA COUNTY, GA - Saturday, July 1,2006 - 2:45 pm - Catoosa County Fire Department was alerted to a house fire at 474 McDonald Road just off of Highway 41 near Summit Hill. Catoosa Engine 13 was the first company on the scene and was told by a neighbor that several children may still be inside. Firefighters immediately started a search for the children while engaging in a primary interior attack effort. Within minutes, Deputy Chief Jim White arrived on the scene. Chief White called for additional tankers due to the lack of a fire hydrant nearby and then assisted with the search.

Within minutes, firefighters were advised that all the children were out of the structure. Unfortunately, one of the firefighters passed out from exhaustion due to the intense heat inside as well as the high 90 degree weather out side. Several Catoosa County Firefighters had to now pull one of their own to safety.

Fortunately paramedics from Hutcheson EMS were arriving on the scene at the same time rescuers pulled the firefighter to safety. Rescuers then turned his care over to the medics. Paramedics quickly removed the firefighters heavy hot turnout gear, loaded him onto a stretcher and rushed him to their ambulance.

Additional arriving fire crews joined the firefighting efforts. With live power lines arcing on the ground and one firefighter already down, extinguishing the fire became much more intense. Additional help from Fort Oglethorpe Fire Department and Walker County Fire Department arrived on the scene quickly and assisted the Catoosa County Firefighters aggressively choke the life out of the blaze.

Two other firefighters also suffered from some minor heat exhaustion, but luckily they were treated on the scene. The other firefighter that past out was rushed by Hutcheson EMS to Erlanger Medical Center. A neighbor and an off duty Paramedic immediately started furnishing the other firefighters with water and cold towels to help with cooling them down.

Deputy Chief Jim White said his firefighters did an amazing job keeping the fire in check until additional man power arrived to assist with extinguishing the blaze.

Additional Mutual aid assignments from East Ridge and Tri-Community Fire Departments were called to cover the Fort Oglethorpe fire district and the Catoosa County Fire district. The fire was subsequently extinguished after about an hour, but unfortunately the home was almost completely destroyed. The exact cause of the fire is still under investigation and the condition of the injured firefighter is not known, but fire officials do say that his injuries are not life threatening.