An independent panel concluded the Modesto Fire Department acted appropriately when they tackled a house fire in January that seriously injured two firefighters when a roof collapsed beneath them.
The panel’s investigation also found areas where the department can improve its practices and policies in hopes of preventing another similar accident and decreasing the severity of the injuries.
Fire officials released the investigation’s findings publicly this morning, sharing the information with residents and other firefighting agencies.
The panel was made of representatives from other area fire agencies and preceded by a state review of occupational laws, which also found no wrongdoing by the department.
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While the department is under no legal obligation, Modesto fire officials are already in the process of implementing most of the recommendations made by the panel.
The fire occurred shortly after 11:30 p.m. Jan. 1 at the single-story house in the 2300 block of Coston Avenue, just west of Prescott Road in north Modesto.
Firefighter Jason Clevenger and Engineer James Adams were on top of the Coston Avenue house, getting ready to cut a hole in the garage’s roof to remove heat and smoke from below. The roof caved in.
Both men fell about 10 feet into the fire. Clevenger couldn’t find Adams among the clutter and chaos, and had to chop his way through debris to safety.
Other firefighters had to restrain him from going back into the home to find Adams, who had been trapped beneath burning debris and got the worst of it.
Clevenger received third-degree burns over 10 percent of his body. He returned to light duty March 22 after spending 17 days in the hospital, including time in the burn unit at the University of California Medical Center in Sacramento.
Adams suffered third-degree burns over 45 percent of his body and spent 53 days in the hospital before being released in April. He is at home in Calaveras County, rehabilitating from his injuries.
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