North Carolina Firefighter Injured in Floor Collapse

Jan. 14, 2009
Two firefighters were trapped inside.


A mother taking her baby and dog on a walk came home to find their house engulfed in flames early Tuesday.

"When she walking, someone stopped her and said there's a house on fire on her street. She came back and it was hers," said neighbor Elizabeth Johnson.

Heavy smoke poured from the Kiser family's house on Thornhill Club Drive near Ballantyne Commons Parkway in south Charlotte shortly after 10 a.m. Firefighters said the fire, which appears to have begun in the back of the house, spread quickly and was very intense because of the wood-frame construction of the home.

The fire rapidly became a three-alarm blaze. Firefighters said at first they were on the offensive and attacked the fire from inside the home, but the firefighters got out when they got worried about the integrity of the structure.

Firefighters shifted to a defensive mode then and focused their efforts on protecting neighboring homes. Fire Capt. Mark Basnight said once they had knocked down the bulk of the flames, firefighters went back inside the house to try to douse the blaze.

One firefighter suffered traumatic injuries when the second floor collapsed, trapping two firefighters inside the house, Basnight said. Fire officials immediately sent in the Rapid Intervention Team, which got the two men out of the fire quickly.

The injured firefighter is expected to recover.

The home, however, was destroyed. Fire officials estimated the damage at more than $300,000.

The American Red Cross is assisting the residents, who are currently with friends and family. Neighbors also rallied around them and tried to clean and save what they could from the home. They said they live in a tight-knit community, and they'll pull together for the Kisers, their three children and their dog.

"They're a great family, great young family. You hate to see so much loss," a neighbor said. "You hate to see everything go up just like that."

Federal, state and local investigators worked together to determine the cause of the fire. They expect to release their findings Wednesday morning.

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