ROOF COLLAPSE: ‘I Thought I Was Going To Die’

It has been almost a week since the historic Younkers building downtown caught fire. Today we’re hearing from the first responders who were in the building before it collapsed.

Six firefighters were inside the building making their way up to the fifth floor when the west side of the building began to collapse.

“I heard a series of booms which as soon as I heard them I thought the floors were pancaking down,” Lt. Randy Jones recounted.

Listen to the dramatic dispatch calls

“Before the lieutenant could even talk we were gone, we were starting to turn around and run,” senior medic Carl Noftsger said. “We dropped our packs per his command and I remember running as fast as I could, I felt like I was hardly moving.”

“Luckily we all made it outside. I came across the street and was dry heaving in my mask,” Noftsger added. “I thought I was gonna die that’s how scared I was.”

No one was injured in the fire.

Prior to the collapse, firefighters say it took them several minutes to gain access to the building due to there being several locked gates and doors.

However, firefights say that wasn’t the only roadblock they faced.

Most large buildings have outlets where firefighters can plug in their hoses to use water. But since the building was undergoing construction all but one of those water outlets were shut off.

Now firefighters are questioning whether or not they should have entered into the building.

The department plans to meet together in the near future to talk about what could have been done differently.


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