Flames were ripping out of the top windows of a two-story home on Detroit’s west side when firefighters arrived at 7 a.m. Saturday.
“I have a victim in the rear stairwell,” a firefighter radioed to the chief.
An 88-year-old woman was trapped on the burning stairwell of her house at 3000 Tyler near Lawton. As Sgt. Christian Spitzig tried to reach her, the porch collapsed.
“We got a man down, a firefighter, at the rear of the dwelling,” a firefighter radioed to the chief. “He’s going to have to be transported.”
Crushed beneath the collapse, Spitzig “directed our brothers to continue with the search,” Fire Commissioner Eric Jones said.
And they did, rescuing the woman before it was too late.
“I called Chris and he told me that he knew the porch was suspect but he was more concerned about rescuing the elderly citizen trapped inside,” the commissioner said.
“Chris disregarded his safety to rescue the 88-year-old female trapped inside. They saved her life.”
Spitzig was treated and released at a hospital for neck, side and back injuries.
“Flat out amazing, the men and women of DFD are true heroes, and I don’t say that lightly or in passing: They would die for each other or a stranger.”
It was a busy night and morning for firefighters, who battled fires in nine houses, an apartment and a commercial building in just 11 hours.
Between Thursday and Friday, two firefighters died while on duty. Both appeared to have died from natural causes.
Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.