Firefighter Suffers Burns In Early-Morning Blaze

By Dan Morse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 3, 2008

A Montgomery County firefighter was burned over a third of his body yesterday and remains in intensive care after being trapped in a burning house in Rockville.

Joel Rogozinski, 23, performed a "brilliant" self-rescue through a small basement window and is expected to make a full recovery except for possible scarring to his arms, underarm areas and legs, said Eric N. Bernard, the president of the Rockville Volunteer Fire Department, where Rogozinski is stationed.

About 1:30 a.m. yesterday, firefighters arrived at a burning 30-by-30-foot Cape Cod-style house in Rockville's Lincoln Park neighborhood, fire officials said.

As Rogozinski entered, looking for occupants, the first floor partially gave way, leaving the firefighter dangling over a burning basement, Bernard said. Trapped in such a way that he couldn't pull himself up, he dropped into the basement and made his way through smoke to a window, said Pete Piringer, a spokesman for the Montgomery Fire and Rescue Service.

Rogozinski smashed the window and put his air tank outside, but kept his air mask over his face, Bernard said, adding that "two breaths of that black smoke and he could have gone unconscious."

The firefighter was able to pull himself out with help from colleagues outside. The house, in the 200 block of Frederick Avenue, suffered more than $100,000 worth of damage, fire officials said. No other injuries were reported.

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