2 firefighters hurt battling blaze at vacant Detroit school

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Two firefighters were hospitalized after battling a blaze at a shuttered school on Detroit's southwest side Thursday, representatives said.

Crews were called to the former Phoenix Multicultural Academy near Lane and Central at about 6 p.m. and found flames in the auditorium area, said Deputy Fire Commissioner Dave Fornell.

The building's boarded windows complicated ventilation efforts and a command officer "became disoriented and ran out of air," he said. "Other firefighters came to his assistance and got him out of there."

Fire officials are working to determine the cause of the blaze.

The officer was rushed to Detroit Receiving Hospital with severe smoke inhalation, Fornell said. He was listed in critical condition late Thursday but is expected to recover.

One of the firefighters who helped him also was briefly hospitalized for heat exhaustion then released, Fornell said.

Their colleagues spent about 90 minutes working to extinguish the two-alarm blaze, which spread to the roof, he said. "It was a tough fire to fight."

The department is working to determine what sparked the blaze.