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

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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.


  • William Denison

    Heres what I would do if I was in fire fighting.I would use a IR/flare type camera to study roof temps just before they collapse. After data is collected outfit a small hover drone and hover over the building tracking roof temps. When the temps start rising fast thats when its time to bail.
    Different building types would require different temp data for the drone.It would save untold lives…..just sayin

  • William Denison

    I guess I’ll just have to do it for ya Doug. This would work as well or together with a temperature drone. Dropping a probe on the roof with sensors that pick up vibrations from the buildings structure sending reading to the fire chief. …Your welcome

  • dennis wright

    not to downplay the importance of the job they do daily,plus its a very hard job…… but you signed up for it and how long is the news people going to beat this horse?

    • William Denison

      The down town of your city looks like a hugh bomb went off. How long should they cover it?

  • Hugo S. LaVia

    It’s really sad – Younkers is/was supposedly so loved, why did they go out of business downtown? I guess all those people who live and work downtown don’t automatically shop downtown?

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