Oregon Firefighters Knocked Back at Strip Mall Fire

Firefighters knocked backward by explosive flames while fighting a three-alarm fire at a Oregon City strip mall early Wednesday sustained just minor injuries thanks to their protective suits, reports The Oregonian (http://bit.ly/1sKL1q8)

Several firefighters were caught in a backdraft, said Clackamas Fire District 1 spokesman Brandon Paxton. Crews pushed through a door to the inside the burning building, allowing fresh oxygen to rush in and stoke the flames.

The explosive reaction threw at least two firefighters back about 10 to 15 feet, Paxton said. The flames also burst through a nearby window, spraying glass at the firefighters. The incident prompted a “mayday” distress call and crews raced to the firefighters’ aid. 

The backdraft occurred about 40 minutes after a passerby reported the fire at the mall. When crews arrived just around 5 a.m., they saw heavy brown and black smoke rising from the building. 

Lt. Kirk Stempel with the Gladstone Fire Department was transported to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center with first- and second-degree burns to his hands and face. Stempel has since been treated and released, Paxton said. A Clackamas Fire District 1 firefighter hit by the backdraft was uninjured.

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