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Govans apartment blaze traps firefighter Floor collapses under him, but he's rescued 40 minutes later.


A Baltimore firefighter was trapped for 40 minutes under debris and furniture before being rescued late last night from a burning apartment house in Govans.

He and five other firefighters suffered minor injuries. They were treated at three area hospitals and released, said Fire Department spokesman Capt. Patrick P. Flynn.

All occupants of the four apartments escaped without injury.

Investigators said a child playing with matches ignited the three-alarm fire, which burned out a small, two-story frame apartment building on Winston Avenue, just off the 5100 block of York Road in the northside neighborhood.

Two firefighters were hurt when the building's second floor collapsed under their feet and sent them sliding with debris and furniture past the burned-out first floor and into the basement.

One got to his feet and escaped, but Firefighter William Hennick Jr. was pinned under debris, a heavy beam and furniture. After the blaze was under control, firefighters used an inflatable air bag to lift the beam and free him.

Sitting in a stretcher in the back of an ambulance, Mr. Hennick said two firefighters had been standing in front of him and there had been "a lot of smoke, a lot of fire, and all of a sudden it went and we all ended up buried under all this debris."

The first alarm came at 10:22 p.m., and additional men and fTC equipment were dispatched over the next hour and a half.

Firefighters arriving on the first alarm used a ladder to enter the second floor and search for residents after being told some children might be trapped.

However, none was found, and firefighters determined that all residents of the building's four apartments had gotten out safely.

Another team of three firefighters, sent inside the building to battle the flames, was on the second floor when the collapse occurred, officials said.

Mr. Hennick's worst injuries appeared to be bruises; two other men were cut by nails, one injured an ankle, another a knee, and the sixth man complained of chest pains, officials said.

Captain Flynn identified the other injured firefighters as Vincent Previti, Engine 19, and Ronald Garrett, Engine 32, both treated at Mercy Medical Center and released; Leslie Davis, Engine 4, and Herbert Driscol, Engine 43, both treated at Good Samaritan Hospital and released; and Albert Jordan, Engine 4, treated at Union Memorial Hospital and released.

Damage to the building and contents was estimated at more than $100,000, fire investigators said.

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