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    Up Close & Personal: LB Firefighters Share Harrowing Experiences In Rescuing Victims Of Gale St. Fire

    (December 19, 2005) -- is pleased to present first-person accounts of LB Firefighters describing their experiences in rescuing the victims of the recent Gale St. fire.

    We thank the Firefighters for their lifesaving work...and LBFD Public Information Officer, Battalion Chief Jeff Reeb for letting us tell their stories:

    [begin LBFD text]

    The firefighters from Engine 13 were first on scene. From the curb, they could not see any evidence of the fire already underway at the back of the property.

    "At first I couldn't see anything but people waving at us. But as I made my way to the back of the property I saw blood on the driveway and I knew we had something," explained Captain Gioiello from Engine 13. "Once I got around the corner I could see the rear unit and the fire was already showing out the living room window." Captain Gioiello immediately called for an attack line. His crew had instinctively already began to pull the line, saving valuable time.

    With Engine 13's crew mounting their initial fire attack through the front door, the second arriving crew, Engine 3's (E3), concentrated on rescuing the trapped family from a rear bedroom.

    "There's fire coming out the front door, heavy black smoke coming out the kitchen window, and a little less coming out of the bedroom window. We knew that that's where the family was so we finished breaking out the window glass and I pushed the center window frame aside and just dove in. Firefighter Girard came in behind me and we just slid across the top of a dresser that was in front of the window," explained Captain Wechsung (E3).
    Living quarters at rear of property, a converted garage. Firefighters rescued four trapped residents from this structure. The boys were passed out the last window on the right. "Our firefighters literally dove in through that window to pull the boys out. This was before the fire was extinguished." Text and photo, LBFD PIO Battalion Commander Jeff Rebb

    "I basically landed almost on top of the youngest boy (Andrew age 6). I handed him out the window to Captain Crewse and then we found Mom (Monica) and the second boy (Miguel age 8)," stated Captain Wechsung.

    Firefighters from Long Beach Engine Company Three passed the two boys out of this now-boarded up window to Captain Crewse from Engine 7. Text and photo, LBFD PIO Battalion Commander Jeff Rebb
    Both of the boys were passed out the window to waiting Firefighters who than began advanced life support procedures. With the boys safely outside, the Engine crews turned their attention to two adult women also trapped by the fire. These women were removed via the front door, through the fire area Engine 13 had just extinguished.

    [end LBFD text]

    LBFD Paramedics treated the six familymembers and transported them to area hospitals.

    LBFD Firefighters from Engines 3 and 13 say they're looking forward to a reunion being planned to reunite the family and their rescuers after the family has recovered from their ordeal.

    LBFD PIO Reeb says those wishing to help the Sandoval family can mail donations to:

    925 Harbor Plaza Drive, Suite 100
    Long Beach, CA 90802
    Attention: Community Services.

    Checks should be made payable to "Friends of Long Beach Firefighters-Sandoval Family Fund."

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