A veteran Dallas firefighter battling a fire outside a burning building Friday morning crawled to safety though burning debris after part of the roof suddenly toppled over and fell on top of him, authorities say.
Firefighters with Dallas Fire-Rescue were called to a fire at a vacant commercial building on the 2600 block of Walnut Hill Lane just before 2 a.m. When they arrived, they reported seeing flames and heavy smoke shooting through the roof.
Using hand lines and ladder pipes, firefighters worked quickly to try to get a handle on the growing fire.
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In video posted to Twitter by Jim Willits, a Dallas firefighter, identified by DFR as Capt. Ronald Janek, can be seen standing outside the structure when the gable end of the roof, which was engulfed in flames, began to fall away from the frame.
Janek turned to run, but the roof fell directly on top of him, knocking him to the ground and covering him in fiery debris.
Within seconds Janek emerged from the flames on his knees, without his helmet, brushing away debris from his face and head as he crawled across embers and through thick smoke to an untouched grassy area nearby.
Janek was soon surrounded by other firefighters who began assessing his injuries and providing first aid.
DFR said Friday afternoon that Janek suffered minor burns to his neck and significant injuries to his lower back and foot -- none of the injuries were considered life-threatening, Dallas Fire-Rescue spokesman Jason Evans said. Janek, Evans said, was hospitalized at Parkland Memorial Hospital and, while he's expected to be OK, faces a long road to recovery.
Dallas Fire-Rescue reported that Janek was discharged from the hospital to return home Sunday. He left from Parkland Hospital at approximately 1 p.m. and was surrounded by family as he begins his recovery.
Janek has been with the Dallas Fire-Rescue Department for 28 years and works out of Station 19 where he's also part of the department's Urban Search and Rescue Team.
"On behalf of his entire family, he wishes to thank everyone who has expressed their concerns, and sent well-wishes, after seeing the video of the collapse from the morning’s news coverage," Evans said, adding that Janek prefers not to speak publicly at this time and has asked for privacy as he recovers from his injuries.
Willits said he shared the video on Twitter because he wants people to see the dangers firefighters face every day.
Because the building was vacant, no other injuries were reported, Evans said.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
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