Firefighter falls through roof during working fire

Photo Courtesy: Newport News Fire Department.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — A Newport News firefighter wasn’t hurt after he nearly fell through a roof Tuesday.

Firefighters responded just before 11:30 a.m. to a fire on 35th Street, according to a spokesperson for the department.

Lieutenant Brian Sanzo says his crew went on the roof to ventilate it, but because it was damaged and rotting, one of the firefighters fell through up to his waist.

Sanzo and other firefighters saw it happen, and grabbed him within seconds.

“You don’t even think about it, you just start working. Your hands go into motion. You know one of your guys is right there. You don’t think about your safety, you don’t think about anything but getting that guy out of there,” Sanzo said.

The firefighter went to the doctor as a precaution, but he was not hurt, according to a department spokesperson.

Going up on a roof is risky every time, Sanzo said.

“But, a lot of times, it’s the only way to open it up and get to [the fire],” he said. “We just stay cautious while we’re doing it, and make sure we keep an eye on our folks. We get up there, get a hole in the roof, and get off of there. We don’t like to spend a lot of time up there.”

The Newport News Fire Department tweeted pictures of firefighters working at the scene around 12:05 p.m. Tuesday.

Battalion Chief Stephen Pincus tells WAVY.com crews were working to tear out the walls and ceilings of the building to find the fire. The fire was reportedly under control at 12:28 p.m., although investigators were on scene until about 2:00 p.m.

Virginia Dominion Power disconnected the electrical feed to the building. Investigators say a faulty wall heater started the fire.

Refuge Nation Church uses the building to hold Substance Abuse Addiction and Recovery Alliance meetings. Church leaders say the building is badly damaged, and meetings will have to be held in the church until they can repair the building.

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