‘We do a dangerous job’: Close call after Roanoke firefighter hurt by falling debris

House collapsed after weekend fire

A house collapsed after a fire in Roanoke over the weekend.

ROANOKE, Va. – In his 15 year career as a firefighter, Lt. Stephen Curry with Roanoke Fire-EMS has never seen anything like the fire that happened on Bullitt Avenue in southeast Roanoke over the weekend.

A fire broke out around 5:45 on Saturday morning at a vacant house on the 700 block of Bullitt Avenue. As the fire burned through the structure, it started to collapse. Firefighters warned each other to be careful. Not long after, the building toppled.

“I have not personally seen this happen in my career. Often in the city, it doesn’t happen because our trucks get there so quick and our crews are on it pretty quickly. You can have fires that devastate a house, but it’s still standing," said Curry. "So to see that particular house twist in that fashion and collapse in the back was kind of an odd sight.”

Falling debris hit and injured one firefighter.

“That was certainly a close call. We do a dangerous job," said Curry.

Fire officials said the firefighter’s injuries were minor and the person is doing fine.

In this line of work, community risk reduction specialist Kristen Perdue said there’s always some danger.

“That’s why firefighters wear all that gear: steel-toed boots, a helmet," said Perdue. "They have those things to protect them and, luckily, it did protect the firefighter on that day.”

The building was a total loss so crews had to tear down the remains.

The cause of this fire was undetermined.

“They can’t locate an exact cause of the fire. Due to the structural collapse, it made it difficult to investigate," said Perdue.

Curry said he and his team put their lives on the line, so he trusts the department’s training and the instincts to look out for themselves and each other.

“In this line of work, some guys are going to get hurt. Some guys are going to get injured and you have to accept that, and move on and learn from it," said Curry.

This is the fourth house on Bullitt Avenue to catch on fire in the past year.

This home was vacant and there were no other injuries. Still, Roanoke Fire-EMS officials said this is a reminder that fires can spread very quickly and cause a lot of damage.

October is National Fire Prevention Month, so they said everyone should have a working smoke alarms and test them monthly, and have a fire escape plan and a meeting place for everyone who lives in the home.

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You can watch Lindsey during Virginia Today every weekend or as a reporter during the week!