A simple smoky house turned into a backdraft of flames Friday night as Jacksonville firefighters risked their lives to save an elderly man at Sixth and Pearl streets. Firefighters arrived about 8:30 p.m. to find light smoke in the house, possibly from food left on the stove, said Tom Francis, spokesman for Jacksonville Fire and Rescue.
Francis said one person got out without help, but an elderly man was stuck on the second floor.
Firefighters were helping the man out when the light smoke turned dark and thick “in a matter of seconds,” Francis said. Suddenly, the house was filled with flames.
Firefighters got the man outside, but a door slammed shut on two firefighters still inside, Francis said. Rescue crews broke a window to get the trapped firefighters to safety, he said.
Three firefighters suffered injuries in the rescue. Firefighter Mark Kruger was taken to Shands Jacksonville hospital with burns, firefighter Steven Grant suffered smoke inhalation and Lt. James Mallard had cuts.
“It escalated to the point that it did very quickly,” Francis said of the blaze. “These guys risked their lives.”