Three Firefighters Injured In Tulsa School Explosion Talk About Their Experience

Wednesday, September 19th 2012, 7:08 pm
By: News On 6

Three Tulsa firefighters recounted, Wednesday, the fiery explosions in which they were caught and badly burned.

It's been two weeks since the fire at Tulsa's old Barnard Elementary at 2324 East 17th Street.

Now, we're hearing from some of the firefighters who, when they responded to an early morning fire at the school, walked into an exploding fireball.

The three firefighters were hospitalized with second degree burns and they were all released from the hospital two days ago.

All three men credit their training and their fire gear for saving their lives.

Mike Rodriguez, Heath Tye and Terry Sivadon are back at their fire station for the first time since they walked into an exploding fireball.

9/11/2012 Related Story: Tulsa Firefighters Recovering After Barnard School Fire, Explosions

"The ATF told us it was 1800 degrees at one point, so we were cooking for just a minute," Captain Sivadon said.

Sivadon has had skin grafts on his ears and hands.

Rodriguez had grafts on his hands and lower leg.

Both men were in the hospital for twelve days after the explosion at the Tulsa School of Arts and Sciences on September 5.

"A lot of debris came down from the ceiling and we landed in some hot plastic and some hot roofing material," Sivadon said. "Then the second explosion let the fire come in on us and the whole room turned red."

Rodriguez said, "I was actually able to get under the first explosion, I saw it roll over me. But the second one was just floor to ceiling fire, wouldn't stop, and I knew that my hands and legs were burned really bad, almost instantly."

"I knew I was on fire," Tye said. "Our facemask was starting to melt and everything. Our gear was on fire."

None of the men had ever experienced an explosion that powerful while fighting a fire.

"I just remember having a very clear sense that this could be it, this could be it, while I was going a hundred miles per hour trying to get out of it," Rodriguez said.

All three men each have two children.

"I thought of my kids and thought of my firefighters and getting them out so they could make it home to their kids," Sivadon said.

Tye said, "I don't know how far down the hall we crawled before the flames went away, but it seemed like forever."

Tye was hospitalized for three days, but didn't need skin grafts.

The pain of their burns comes and goes all day long and yet they still can't wait to get back to work.

"It is a dangerous job and we know that every day, so every time we get on this truck, we know it's dangerous and we put our lives on the line every day to protect the citizens and do our job," Sivadon said.

The firefighters said they have no idea how long their recovery will take.

They said the support from fellow firefighters, city leaders and the community has been overwhelming.