Firefighter falls through floor while battling Riverside blaze

Cause of East Burlington Street fire still under investigation

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By Bob Uphues


A Riverside firefighter was taken to Loyola University Medical Center as a precaution Sunday night after he fell through a floor while fighting a fire inside an East Burlington Street home, tumbling about eight feet into the basement, on the night of Dec. 29.

Fire Chief Matthew Buckley said the firefighter was not badly injured and was released from the hospital that night.

The cause of the fire at the small one-story brick home at 296 E. Burlington St. is still under investigation, said Buckley. He's being aided in the investigation by the Illinois State Fire Marshal and Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS) Division 10 personnel.

Buckley did say investigators believe the fire originated in the space between the plaster board basement ceiling and the hardwood floor of the ground-floor living area.

"The fire burned away the joists that held the floor up," Buckley said, giving way when firefighters entered the home through the front door with a hose to put out the fire.

According to Buckley, the fire was called in about 9:10 p.m. by a neighbor who saw flames through a rear window of the house. The home is being rented out, said Buckley, but no one was home at the time the fire started.

Buckley said he arrived on the scene first and saw flames through the rear windows, inside a rear bedroom of the two-bedroom residence. He said the fire itself was contained to that space, but that the entire home had sustained smoke and heat damage. The house has been declared uninhabitable, for now.

After shooting water through the rear windows to douse the flames there, firefighters entered the front door and made their way to the rear to check for other hot spots. That's when the floor gave way and the firefighter fell through, said Buckley.

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