ST. LOUIS, Mo. – The firefighter who died after a roof collapsed during a two-story house fire in north St. Louis has been identified.
Benjamin Polson died in the line of duty on Thursday, the St. Louis Fire Department confirmed. Another firefighter, who has not been identified, was injured and taken to the hospital.
“There are no words to describe what the feeling is right now amongst the St. Louis Fire Department. The risk we took today wasn’t worth it; we lost a firefighter,” said St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson.
Firefighters were called to a home in the 5900 block of Cote Brilliante around noon. They were able to knock down the fire on the first floor and then made their way to the second floor.
While on the second floor, firefighters made the decision to back out due to the intensity of the fire. Jenkerson said as they were leaving, the roof collapsed, burying two firefighters.
“This kind of event weighs just tremendously heavy on the entire department,” Jenkerson.
The collapse of the roof caused heavy timber and bricks to fall on the firefighters causing the death of one firefighter and injuring the other.
“Once these things come down, they normally don’t give you a warning. These are old buildings here. These are three or four-course bricks, so there’s a lot of weight, a lot of heavy timber,” said Jenkerson. “So when it comes down … if you’re in the way of that falling timber, it’s normally serious injuries and in this case, it proved to be grave injuries.”
Officials are looking into the conditions of the building and what may have led to the collapse. Jenkerson noted there were bars on the outside of the house, so it may have been occupied.
First responders were able to find the trapped firefighters. The injured firefighter was taken to the hospital.
The home is a total loss and the cause of the fire is under investigation.