PA Firefighter Describes Being Trapped in Burning Building

A firefighter who survived being trapped in a vacant burning building in New Castle, Pennsylvania, discussed the ordeal with (

New Castle Fire Chief Tom Maciarello is calling the fire inside a vacant building on the 100 block of East Washington Street suspicious. The fire was called in shortly after 8:00 p.m. Sunday.

Three firefighters went inside to attack the fire, but when they found the second and third floors fully engulfed in flames they decided to get out. Two firefighters made their way out safely and the other firefighter became trapped.

Lieutenant John Onufrak said, “When it started coming down I didn’t think it was going to be that bad because I have had ceilings fall on me before and then the large timber came down. I was concerned and it happened so fast and it knocked me fortunately toward the door. I was maybe two feet from the door but buried and stuck.”

Lieutenant John Onufrak said his fellow firefighters started digging and called for more help but there was another obstacle: his air pack.

Chief Maciarello said, “As we attempted to pull him out, his air pack got caught, OK, as we were pulling him his air pack was pulling up against him. So we had to cut the straps of the air pack and it took a minute, a minute and a half but we finally pulled him out of harm’s way and transported him to the hospital.”

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