CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) – It was a busy day and night for Champaign Firefighters. Chief Gary Ludwig said the first house fire they were called to on Flora Drive was “super charged with smoke,” and they were fighting the flames until a mayday was called.
“One of our initial fire companies made an entry and declared an emergency. We had an emergency with him. His face mask and helmet got knocked off with one of the water streams they were using inside the house,” Ludwig said.
The firefighter breathed in smoke filled with toxins like cyanide and carbon monoxide. Ludwig said the firefighter was very aware of where he was in the home, and was able to get himself out. He was taken to the hospital, where the chief says he was intubated to help him breath.
He said around 3 p.m. they were able to take the tube out of his chest, and he’s doing much better.
That wasn’t the only second alarm fire crews had to fight. Just a few hours later, they were called out again.
That fire quickly became a second alarm fire because of the way the home is built. Ludwig said the fire actually started outside of the house, but it got inside and in the walls and eventually became too dangerous to fight from the inside.
“Those are the type of fires you’re not going to typically put out, because you can’t go in to the building anymore and put the fire out,” he said.
The department was at that scene of that fire for hours. Ludwig said it’s been exhausting, but his team is making it work.
“I couldn’t be prouder of our Champaign firefighters, because not only have they fought these two fires in the last two days, but little did you know they have been under an amount of extreme fatigue here,” he said. “We’ve had multiple fire fighters testing positive with COVID. We have firefighters already out on injury. So, I have firefighters sometimes working 2, 3, 4 shifts in a row just so we can keep these stations staffed and we’re able to respond to the emergencies in the community.”
The owners of each home and their families made it out okay, but one dog did die in the first fire.
Champaign fire said both families lost everything.