Off-duty firefighter pulls quadriplegic man from burning home - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Off-duty firefighter pulls quadriplegic man from burning home

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(08/22/12) - The Birch Run Fire Department was playing their annual softball game with the Frankenmuth Fire Department last night, and on the way home, one of the firefighters came up with a big save.

A glow in the sky sent a volunteer firefighter to a home where he helped rescue a paralyzed man from a burning home.

The fire happened around 9 Tuesday night on Busch Road in Birch Run Township, near Frankenmuth.

The man's wife, along with their son, were trying to get the man out of home when the volunteer firefighter arrived before fire crews.

The fire started in the garage area and rekindled several hours after the flames were put out - several hours after a man was rescued from the home.

Gilbert Schmitzer lives next door to the home - it's his daughter's home. A call was made to 911. Linda Gean and her son Derreck were trying to get Linda's husband Robert, who has multiple sclerosis, out of bed and into a wheelchair.

"He can't move at all," Schmitzer said.

As the flames were spreading into the bedroom, they were having trouble with a pulley system to get the man out of the bed. They needed help, and they got it.

"He noticed the glow in the sky," said David Matzke, Birch Run Township Fire Chief.

The "he" Birch Run Fire Chief David Matzke is referring to is volunteer firefighter Matt Cabello, who drove toward the glow, saw the garage on fire, and headed into the house. Cabello said there was no time with the pulley-system, and with the flames spreading into the bedroom, it was time to carry Robert Gean, who is described as a 'big man,' out of the house.

"As they were inside trying to get him out, the fire was burning into the bedroom, so they got him out in the nick of time," Matzke said.

As they carried him out, fire crews arrived, and fought the fire for several hours.

Matzke says this could have had a different ending if Cabello didn't check out that glow in the sky. He says volunteer firefighters are sorely needed in smaller communities. "A lot of departments are feeling the numbers decrease on the departments. We need more firefighters."

Cabello says he just did what he is trained to do.

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