Tulsa Firefighters Rescue Woman From Burning Apartment

Tuesday, June 26th 2012, 8:17 am
By: Craig Day

Tulsa firefighters rescued an elderly woman from her burning apartment early Tuesday morning.

A search team found the victim in smoke so thick they could only see a few inches in front of them.

Tulsa Fire said the woman had a faint pulse and was barely breathing. Firefighters performed CPR, getting her to breathe on her own, before taking her to the hospital.

"The efforts of John Stapleton, Rob Bunch, Jacob Younger and Larry Jackson were rewarded when the victim was placed on a stretcher, breathing on her own, and transported to a hospital," said Captain Stan May of the Tulsa Fire Department.

The fire at the Bradford Creek Apartments at 31st and 108th East Avenue was called in shortly before 2 a.m.

When firefighters arrived, they found heavy smoke pouring from the first floor apartment.

Tulsa Fire District Chief Ronnie Cole say when firefighters got inside the apartment, they found the woman lying on the kitchen floor.

Captain John Stapleton is a veteran firefighter.

"All of a sudden, I thought I heard something. ‘Larry, be quiet I hear something.'" Stapleton said.

Larry Jackson is a rookie, who graduated from the last academy.

"We initially about missed her," Jackson said.

Together, the two teamed up to search on their hands and knees in near zero visibility conditions.

They felt the victim before they saw her. During a fire, especially one producing so much smoke, seconds count.

"He got her by the arms, I got her by the legs, and we started getting her outside of the house," Stapleton said.

Once outside, fellow firefighters Jake Younger and Rob Bunch helped to get the woman oxygen.

"Had we missed, not heard that growl, and gone to the next room, she wouldn't have made it," said Stapleton.

TFD said the woman is expected to recover.

"We don't do it for the glory. We don't do it for the fame. We do it to serve the citizens of Tulsa and that, right there, means a lot," Jackson said.

Tulsa Fire District Chief Ronnie Cole said the fire started in the kitchen and they believe the woman was cooking at the time. An investigation into the cause continues.

Damage to the apartments was around $40,000 to $60,000. The fire also damaged a second floor apartment, and surrounding apartments were damaged by smoke.

In all, six families were displaced by the fire.

Cole said this week's high temps and high humidity make it tough to fight fires, even at 2 a.m.

"Heat, humidity, of course it saps the strength of these firefighters. A lot of these guys were out earlier on another house fire, so we've got two fires that are pretty much back-to-back. They're tired," said Cole.