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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Man trapped in burning Brookline house was found with thermal-imaging camera, rescued

BROOKLINE – Town firefighters used a thermal imaging camera to find and rescue a man trapped inside a burning house Tuesday night.

The victim, Greg Wilson, was taken to St. Joseph hospital suffering mostly from smoke inhalation. His condition Wednesday evening was serious but stable, according to a hospital spokesman. ...

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BROOKLINE – Town firefighters used a thermal imaging camera to find and rescue a man trapped inside a burning house Tuesday night.

The victim, Greg Wilson, was taken to St. Joseph hospital suffering mostly from smoke inhalation. His condition Wednesday evening was serious but stable, according to a hospital spokesman.

The fire was called in at about 6:45 p.m. and completely destroyed the two-story house at 30 Laurel Crest Drive.

On Wednesday, Brookline Assistant Fire Chief Dave Flannery described the chain of events that led to the rescue.

“I was the first officer on the scene,” he said. The house was in flames, and Flannery said a police officer notified him there was someone in the basement.

“I suited up, grabbed (an air) pack off of Engine 2,” he said, after which he moved to the back of the house and waited for a hose to keep the fire at bay so he could enter through a walk-in door.

“It was fully involved in the back. There were flames rolling in the basement,” he said.

“I moved some debris out of the way, kicked the door in and proceeded in with the camera. Those things are absolutely priceless. We got in there probably 10 feet in, and all of a sudden, I picked him up on the camera,” Flannery said.

With him were Lt. J.P. Royea and firefighter Phil Soletsky.

“Phil was keeping an eye on the ceiling. The smoke was about 4 feet down at that point,” Flannery said. “I picked (the victim) up with the camera. I actually reached out, and he was about 6 or 8 feet in front of me. He was not talking at that point.”

“We grabbed him by the arms and carried him out, got him outside to fresh air. Shortly after, we saw him gasp for breath. That was just a great feeling to see him actually breathe,” Flannery said.

The firefighters got him to emergency medical crews who had arrived on the scene, and he was transported to St. Joseph Hospital.

The house is owned by a Bruce Wilson, Greg’s father.

The cause of the fire, which apparently started in the basement, is under investigation by the state fire marshal’s office, said Brookline fire chief Charles Corey.

The fire in the two-story house near the Massachusetts border quickly went to four alarms, and several departments responded. Hollis brought a tower truck that allowed firefighters to spray water down from above, Corey said.

On Wednesday morning, a little smoke was still coming from the center of the house. The second floor had collapsed into the basement, delaying cleanup.

“There’s so much debris, and we can’t get in there,” Corey said.

Don Himsel can be reached at 594-6590 or dhimsel@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Himsel on Twitter (@Telegraph_DonH).