Fall River firefighters trapped in fire, honored - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

Fall River firefighters trapped in fire, honored

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Andrea Medeiros

amedeiros@abc6.com

Flames shot out of an apartment building in Fall River, back in March, the back of it collapsed. Three firefighters were trapped inside that building.

Now, they're being honored for their heroics and speaking about how they got out. Two of them had to jump from a second story window.

They didn't think they'd make it out alive. A month later, they still have severe burns and one of them has a pretty serious back injury. The firefighters got an award, Tuesday, from the city.

"It was shear hell, absolute terror, afraid for myself, afraid for my crew," said firefighter Lt. Paul Machado, "We needed out, it just, it was bad."

Machado and his crew of three were trying to save a woman they thought was inside the home on Plymouth Avenue, instead they ended up trapped themselves when the back of the building collapsed.

"I had never seen anything like that in my nine years, and for a split second I wasn't sure if we were going to make it out," said firefighter Robert Forand.

One of the firefighters rushed down the stairs. The other two were forced to jump out a second floor window.

"Flames down to almost the floor," said Machado, "We couldn't push through it anymore."

"I just jumped out," said firefighter Jeffrey Mello, "I didn't know where I was until I landed. I couldn't see anything."

After the fire and the fall, they had severe burns, sprains and some pretty serious back injuries but survived. They were honored by Mayor Flanagan.

"If you were down one, two, three firefighters here, the outcome could have been gravely different," said the mayor.

The department would have lost some of its firefighters, last year, if it weren't for a 14–million dollar federal grant that also paid for valuable training.

"Our training kicked in," said firefighter Mello, "We did not panic inside. We did what we were supposed to do."

He said that training is why his sons are able to see him get an award instead of mourning his death.

The problem with that federal grant money is it runs out a year from now, and Mayor Flanagan can't guarantee there won't be cuts to the fire department when that happens.

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