det building collapse 0813 1 Detroit Firefighters Hurt Battling Building Fire

WWJ Photo/Mike Campbell

Three Detroit firefighters are in critical condition after a burning building collapsed on them Friday morning. Agents from the ATF are helping in the investigation to determine the cause.

The Detroit Fire Department says firefighters were called to the building on East Jefferson at Dickerson just before 5:30 a.m. and returned shortly after 7 a.m. after the fire rekindled in the two-story building. As the firefighters were entering the building, a wall collapsed and trapped some firefighters.

A statement from the Fire Department says there are three firefighters listed in critical condition: nine-year veteran Brian Baulch, 42-year old and eleven year veteran Eric Jurmo and 31-year old, 11-year veteran Brendan Milewksi.

One firefighter, identified as 46-year old Lt. Gerald Rutkowski, is listed in fair condition.

Three firefighters, Jeron Whitehorn, Shayne Raxter and Lt. Robert Puckett were treated and released.

The firefighters were injured when an exterior wall fell on them, according to Fire Commissioner James Mack.

The cause of the fire is unknown, but appears suspicious.

“We all know its dangerous and we all know its dangerous, but we don’t need
situations in this city where people are starting fires,” Mack said. “This could be avoided if it turns out to be an arson-type fire.”

“People think this is a joke or think it’s funny or they do it for whatever reason they do it but we don’t need it because people can get hurt, people can get killed, now I’ve got six guys in the hospital because some fool is out here doing something.”

detbldg flo 2 Detroit Firefighters Hurt Battling Building Fire

WWJ Photo/Florence Walton

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing said he was “saddened and disappointed anytime our public safety officers are injured, especially in the line of duty.”

He offered prayers for those injured and said it “is also our responsibility as a community to help put an end to the dangerous and irresponsible behaviors that put us all at risk.”

Firal Shayota, who works at the nearby Parkway Foods Supermarket, told WWJ in a live interview that she knew something was wrong when she arrived for work. 

“There (were) quite a few firefighters, engines, and EMS.  There was maybe 15 or 20 firefighters.  We took some water for them,” she said. 

det building collapse 0813 2 Detroit Firefighters Hurt Battling Building Fire

WWJ Photo/Mike Campbell

A worker at a CVS/pharmacy nearby said she heard the building fall down and was told by others that the building fell onto the firefighters. 

Click here to view more photos.

Stay tuned to WWJ Newsradio 950 for the latest developments.

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