Champaign firefighters save man, but say outcome could have been very different

CHAMPAIGN--Champaign firefighters are back at work after an eventful week, responding to four fires between last Wednesday and Sunday, and saving two lives in the process.

When firefighters from Station 4 responded to a call early Saturday morning from a passerby saying a house on the 2300 block of Mattis Avenue was on fire, they didn't think anyone was home.

"Originally they had a report that they didn't know if the house was occupied," said firefighter Jon Jenkins. "And then a report that nobody was in it."

As crews arrived on the scene, they were met by one of the residents returning home from work, and he quickly told them his roommate was in his bedroom. So one team took a hose through the house, while Jenkins and his captain searched from outside, breaking the back windows in the process. That's when they heard coughing.
"I was masked up," said Jenkins. "I went in through the window and found him on the bed just as the other search crew came through the house for him.

They hauled him out the window to safety, Where he was treated for some minor smoke inhalation. But his injuries could've been much worse if his bedroom door had not been shut.
"It did keep the smoke and the heat out of the room, probably saved his life having that," said Jenkins. "If he had had the door open it might have been a different outcome."

There was one life-saving tool missing from the home: a smoke detector.

"[It's] been really the law to have those smoke detectors for decades now," said Champaign Fire Marshal, John Koller. "That really is the first line of defense to alerting individuals in the home that something is going on and they need to evacuate."

Fortunately, firefighters were able to handle the evacuation this time.

"Lots of times we don't have a good outcome," said Jenkins. "So it's really good to have a good outcome once."

What sparked the fire to begin with remains under investigation. 
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