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Three FFs Continue to Serve After Surviving Natural Gas Bomb

Three FFs Continue to Serve After Surviving Natural Gas Bomb

Columbus Dispatch via YellowBrix

September 08, 2010

“They said I kept repeating, ’Where’s Pat and Barb?’”

Natural gas that ignites in a contained space can become a bomb. That’s what happened that day.

“I heard a rumbling noise inside the building, and then a ball of fire raised the roof off the top,” said Wood, the battalion chief, who had been standing in the middle of Broad Street.

“Then a huge ball of flame shot out the front door.”

The shock wave knocked him off his feet. Bricks, wood and glass were flying like shrapnel, and some of the smaller stuff slashed his face. The heat burned the hair off his arms.

Wood saw Malone fly through the air and crumple like a rag doll against Engine 10.

Lt. Steven Leis, who had been on the other side of the truck, was the first to reach Malone.

“He was lying on his side and trying to get up,” said Leis, who had responded to the fire call from Station 10, less than 2 miles away on W. Broad. “I saw the burns on his hands, and the skin was starting to come off.”

As soon as paramedics arrived to care for Malone and the other two firefighters, Leis turned his attention to fighting the fire.

“It’s a very sick feeling when you see three firefighters lying there,” he said. “But you have to make sure the scene is OK.”

Medic Chris Kennedy, who heard the blast from Station 10, joined others helping Malone.

“We stripped his clothes off, and his hands were starting to swell, so we took his ring off and his watch,” Kennedy said.

Malone, a medic himself, was alert enough to tell Kennedy what he needed as they rushed to Ohio State University Medical Center.

Capuana and Whiteside, meanwhile, were taken to Mount Carmel West hospital.

Six hours passed before the gas leak and fire were contained. The building housing the bookstore and a second-story apartment was a total loss.

But even as the fire burned, news about the injured firefighters spread through the brotherhood.

The same camaraderie that caused each of the three to think first of the other two after the explosion brought an outpouring of visitors and support.

“It’s a family,” Malone said. “When something happens, it affects everyone.”

Capuana and Whiteside stayed just one night in the hospital, then checked themselves out.

“I know a lot of people showed up that day, but I can’t remember any of them,” Whiteside said. “Every time I sat up I’d get dizzy, but I had a feeling I just had to get out of there.”

Both he and Capuana rushed over to see Malone, whose hands were wrapped in so much white gauze that he looked like a snowman.

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