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Fire victim remains hospitalized

By Staff | Jul 14, 2010

A Cape Coral man remained hospitalized Wednesday afternoon after being injured in a fire that apparently broke out in the garage of his home.
Ralph Rampersad, 65, of 220 N.W. 10th Terrace, was listed in fair condition at Lee Memorial Hospital after sustaining burns and smoke inhalation during fire that was reported at 1:05 p.m. Tuesday.
Rampersad was the only person injured, officials reported.
Fire crews found that the fire had engulfed the garage, living room and attic. They attempted an interior attack but were forced to move to a defensive mode due to the amount of fire over their heads in the attic.
The fire was extinguished at about 1:45 p.m., according to officials.
Battalion Chief Alan Carter, of the Cape Coral Fire Department, reported that the area of origin is the rear of the garage, and it appears a grill was possibly involved. The fire remained under investigation Wednesday, but if officials determine that the cause was a grill, it could be ruled accidental.
Officials, meanwhile, are also responding to questions of whether there were enough firefighters available to safely fight the blaze.
According to a memo Division Chief of Operations Tom Tomich sent to City Manager Carl Schwing, the initial response was adequately staffed.
However firefighters did face some challenges — most notably a lack hydrants in the area — and staffing levels ultimately did impact the ability of firefighters to “rotate” in and out of firefighting mode for their own health and safety.
“Upon arrival with three Engines, the fire conditions presented a heavy fire load in the garage and living room of the house with vertical extension to the roof above the garage. There was also an SUV in the driveway close to the garage that was on fire.
“Units immediately advanced a hose line to the garage to knock down the fire as the second Engine advanced a line to the front door for interior fire attack. The third Engine was detailed to interior search and rescue duties. There was a fire victim who had serious injuries.
“A rescue unit, a ladder truck, and a water-tender arrived at the scene after the initial Engines had begun their fire operation. A sustained water supply was ordered by the Battalion Chief which was acted upon by Truck 7 and the Water Tender, which was labor intensive,” Tomich wrote.
Due to danger from the roof, efforts moved to the outside of the home, he said, adding the heat of the day and exertion from the firefighting effort necessitated some treatment and rotation of staff.
“Due to the extreme heat of the day our personnel required rehab services due to fatigue, some of whom had to go into awaiting ambulances for cooling and medical observation. This is a necessary stage of the operation to make sure that heat stress or heat stroke is not a threat to the health and safety of the firefighting personnel, Tomich wrote. “…This is the stage of the Fire Operation where the additional staffing becomes important for replacing fatigued personnel for the remaining duties.
“With three Rescue units in delayed or browned-out status, as well as additional calls for service normally occurring in the City, the immediate reduction in staffing did have an effect on the ability to rotate fresh crews into the scene to continue the overhaul period of the operation.
“The effect of reduced staffing can diminish the department’s ability to respond to multiple calls for service, conduct necessary training, or respond to back-to-back fires depending on the immediate volume of calls for service.”
Carter said the total loss to the family is $260,000. The damage to the home is $200,000. The damage to the contents is $20,000, and the damage to one vehicle is $10,000. No one else was home when the fire broke out.
The American Red Cross was called in to assist the family, Carter added.