By Samantha Joseph
STUART -- A 22-year-old firefighter sustained major injuries while fighting an early morning fire in Stuart.
Firefighter EMT Jahwann McIntyre and his colleagues were fighting a blaze at 1151 SW Bluewater Way, just after 2 a.m. on Dec. 27.
Children's toys, garbage containers, dishes in the sink and several other signs indicated the house was occupied, so a team of firefighters worked on extinguishing the flames, while another went into the house to rescue residents.
"We had reason to believe at 2:30 in the morning that there were children and other people in the home," said Bureau Chief Bill Schobel. "They were doing what they were trained to do, which is save lives."
Martin County Fire Rescue officials said crews started searching for victims amid heavy smoke conditions, which rapidly escalated and put the team in harm's way.
"They made their way upstairs, where they encountered a lot of heat," Mr. Schobel said. "That's where the injury occurred."
Their colleagues rescued the injured firefighters.
Three firefighters sustained injuries. Rescuers treated one for minor injuries, while a second firefighter was taken to the hospital for additional care.
Mr. McIntyre, however, sustained the most serious injuries. Rescuers flew him by LifeStar to the Jackson Memorial Burn Unit in Miami, where he remained in critical condition at press time
"We're all awaiting updates, and just keeping him and his family in our prayers," Mr. Schobel said.
Mr. McIntyre has worked with Martin County Fire Rescue for about a year, Mr. Schobel said.
The crew later learned the house was in foreclosure and its residents are in the process of moving out. One unconfirmed report indicated someone broke into the house to try to stay warm during the Christmas cold front.
The Florida state fire marshal was investigating the incident at press time.