8 Detroit firefighters hospitalized after burning building collapses

Detroit — Eight firefighters were hospitalized Thursday after a burning house collapsed on the city's east side, officials said.

Flames were reported around 12:45 p.m. at the vacant building on West Hollywood Avenue near John R, said James Harris, the Detroit Fire Department's chief of community relations.

At some point as crews battled the blaze, the building collapsed, trapping two firefighters, he said.

One escaped on his own, but officials worked nearly an hour to free the other, Harris said.

A firefighter on a stretcher is wheeled away from the scene of a structure that collapsed on the city's east side in the area of John R. and Hollywood Avenue. Two firefighters were trapped in the dwelling, and five others were taken to a hospital due to medical emergencies, including heat-related conditions.
Detroit Fire Chief Percy Warmack (middle) is embraced by his mother, Zel Warmack (left), and his sister Sonia Gibson (right) after they drove from Redford, Michigan to make sure he was unharmed after hearing of firefighters trapped in a collapsed building on Detroit's east side.

TV footage from the area showed a mass of firefighters working to clear debris to dig farther into the collapse. Footage showed the firefighter was  freed and put on a stretcher.

A firefighter on a stretcher is wheeled away from the scene of a structure that collapsed on the city's east side in the area of John R. and Hollywood Avenue.

Harris said the firefighter was talking to rescuers and was conscious during the effort, which required moving about a couple of feet of debris. 

The two trapped firefighters were transported to Detroit Receiving Hospital along with six others who reported medical emergencies, Harris said.

"Detroit has the finest and bravest firefighters anywhere," Mayor Mike Duggan said in a statement on Facebook. "That was on display today on Hollywood Street, when a vacant house at which they were fighting a fire collapsed and trapped one of their partners. Fighting heat exhaustion, they kept working until he was brought out safely. We owe all of our firefighters a deep debt of gratitude for the work they do every day.

Seven of the firefighters hospitalized were expected to be released by Thursday night, while the eighth was listed in temporary serious condition, Harris said. Other details were not immediately available.

Crews remained at the scene at 6 p.m. As many as 50 firefighters responded, Harris said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.