Tulsa Firefighter Injured In Arson Released From Hospital - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

Tulsa Firefighter Injured In Arson Released From Hospital

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The Tulsa Fire Department says James O'Neal was discharged from OSU Medical Center around 3:30 p.m. The Tulsa Fire Department says James O'Neal was discharged from OSU Medical Center around 3:30 p.m.
Both of O'Neal's families -- one of blood, the other of brotherhood -- stayed by his side for five days at OSU Medical Center. Both of O'Neal's families -- one of blood, the other of brotherhood -- stayed by his side for five days at OSU Medical Center.
O'Neal's breathing device will be torn apart to find out what went wrong. O'Neal's breathing device will be torn apart to find out what went wrong.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

A Tulsa firefighter who nearly died while battling a house fire is out of the hospital and back home. The reward to find the suspected arsonist is now up to $4,600.

The department is still interviewing the firefighters who were on scene when James O'Neal was brought back to life. To say they're relieved he's back home is an understatement.

EMT's revived the firefighter when his breathing apparatus failed, causing him to inhale smoke instead of air.

01/03/2012 Related Story: Equipment Failure May Have Caused Tulsa Firefighter's Injuries

Both of O'Neal's families -- one of blood, the other of brotherhood -- stayed by his side for five days at OSU Medical Center.

"There was just a great big circle. Everyone was telling stories and kind of went through some of the coping mechanisms," said Tulsa Firefighter Chad Miller.

"That was the first step in the healing process of the crews that were on scene: to actually see James breathing," said District Chief Stacey Belk.

And also talking, although his voice is low and hoarse after breathing so much smoke.

"You might say, he's a big OU fan, it's like he's been at an OU game and cheering OU on really hard. So his throat's real raspy," Belk said.

O'Neal will get checked out by a city doctor to set up a timetable for when he can get back to the firehouse.

"If you gave him his choice, he'd be back tomorrow," Belk said.

O'Neal's breathing device will be torn apart to find out what went wrong.

"Other fire departments have come forward saying they've had similar situations and we're working with them on how their investigations went," said Admin. Chief Jeremy Moore.

Tulsa firefighters take comfort knowing O'Neal and his positive spirit are still alive.

"He was James. That's all I can express. James is James. He had a great big smile on his face," Belk said.

There's a recovery fund set up at the Fire Fighter Credit Union here in Tulsa for people help James O'Neal's family.

Investigators are still looking for the person who set that house fire. They say the reward will continue to grow. Call the Arson Tip Hotline at 918-596-2776.

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