A Prince George’s County firefighter suffered a compression fraction in his back Thursday morning after falling through a hole in the floor while fighting a fire in Mitchellville.
At about 6:30 a.m., firefighters from the St. Joseph’s Fire/EMS Station 806, along with fire/EMS units from six more nearby stations were called to a building fire on the grounds of the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission property in the 2900 block of Enterprise Road. This complex is occupied by the Enterprise Golf Course, Newton White Mansion and the Maryland Park Police Mounted Unit.
Firefighters from St. Joe’s were the first to arrive and found a 1½ story building used as a storage facility and locker room for the mounted police unit on fire with smoke showing from the roof.
Once most of the fire visible from the exterior was knocked down, firefighter/medic Lt. Brian M. Gibson, 39, received permission to go inside the building to assess its condition, said Spokesman Mark Brady. Just feet inside the front door, Gibson fell through a hole created by the fire and fell into the basement.
Gibson calmly used his portable radio to announce a “mayday” and told the incident commander of his location, air supply and asked for a rope to be dropped down to the basement, the spokesman said.
There was no exterior door or access to the basement from the outside and finding a stairwell was not an immediate option. So, firefighters used a ground ladder from one of the engines to drop down the same hole Gibson fell through. Additional firefighters had arrived and continued to fight the fire from outside while the rescue was in progress, Brady said.
Within a few minutes Gibson was freed from the basement and being tended to by paramedics. He was taken to Prince George’s Trauma Center after complaining of back pain.
Doctors say Gibson suffered a compression fracture in the T-7 thoracic vertebra of his back, but he is resting comfortably at the hospital.
Fire investigators are working to determine the fire’s cause, but are focused on a propane heater that hung from the ceiling in the basement, Brady said. It appears the heater created the hole Gibson fell through.