CAHOKIA HEIGHTS, Ill. – A deadly fire in Cahokia Heights on Tuesday morning killed two people and injured three firefighters. FOX 2 spoke with the Alorton fire chief about the dangers firefighters face daily.
“Wide variety: explosions, unknown agents, anything that’s inside. Setups, booby traps,” said Chief DeMario Douglas with the Alorton Fire Department. “We even had situations where we had a vacant house fire, and it literally burned a hole in the middle of the floor that led straight to the basement.”
Douglas said it’s mandatory that they wear SCBA, or self-contained breathing apparatus because when certain materials burn, they can put out different types of gases.
“Even in a car fire, even these new cars have all types of things in nature that burn and could have some type of gas or odor that could harm us,” Douglas said.
Being a firefighter is a dangerous job, as they go into life-threatening situations to try and save lives. Not only is that a challenge they face, but they’re also understaffed, lacking a lot of manpower.
“With the guys that come on the calls with us, I salute them and give them the most gratitude because I definitely appreciate them,” said Douglas said.
The victims who died in the fire have been identified as 78-year-old Bob Tierce and 82-year-old Larry Wetzel. A third victim remains in critical condition.