MARYLAND

Injured Riverdale, Bladensburg firefighters cope after flashfire

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It was an emotional, tearful Sunday for Riverdale and Bladensburg firefighters and their families.

Injured Riverdale, Bladensburg firefighters cope after flashfire

"My son was released yesterday, so we are very thankful", said Cheryl McClary, who's son Michael was injured in a fiery blaze Friday night.

"Our hearts are still with the ones that haven't been", she added.

Late Sunday, Bladensburg Volunteer Firefighters Ethan Sorrell and Kevin O'Toole are in critical condition, badly burned from a flashfire that ripped through a vacant 57th Avenue house just after nine Friday night.

"The wind... it was like a fireball," recalls Riverside VFD Lieutenant Michael Naples.

Sunday morning, Naples, who's 24, was nursing burns to his ears and head, and a torn ligament in his right arm.

He was one of seven firefighters inside a front room when roof debris began falling, there was a flash of flames, and then chaos.

"Fire, you can hear it, sounds like a torch. A lot of screaming, a lot of people yelling and what not, actually burning." he adds.

Within eight seconds, a radio distress tone went out. The firefighters were now confronted with a column of fire.

"That pushed all of that heat and smoke right up the steps, right out that front door, that that crew had just opened and created a torch-like effect", says Prince George's County Fire Chief Marc Bashoor.

All of the seven member crew escaped the burning home with their lives.
But Sorrell's airway is badly burned.

"He has burn injuries down to his lungs", says Vann Sorrell, who travelled to Washington Hospital Center from North Carolina with his
wife Kathy, to be with their son.

"We just pray every day to bless him and strengthen him, and see him through this", Sorrell says.

O'Toole sustained 2nd and 3rd degree burns to forty percent of his body.
His father and mother journeyed to Washington from Long Island, NY, not fully aware of their son's injuries.

"Without the right training, if they hadn't taken it seriously, they wouldn't have gotten out alive", Jeff O'Toole says.

Michael McClary, with cartilage damage, and first degree burns on his hands, was treated and released Saturday... still too emotional to speak with reporters.

"Underneath we're all one big family. Though some of us are strangers, we're all the same", said his mother Cheryl.

There is prayer and pride among these firefighter families.
And despite his injuries, Naples says he'll be back.

"I love it. I'm going to keep on doing this. This is not going to stop me whatsoever."

Investigators have yet to find a cause for the blaze, that broke out in a vacant house.

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