When the Gastineau Apartments caught fire in downtown Juneau last week, fire department responders were told that people were trapped in a stairwell. Firefighters Brent Clancy, Paul Kelly and Travis Larsen didn't find anyone in stairwells but started breaking through all the third-floor doors to be sure everyone had escaped, reports the Juneau Empire.
The firefighters had cleared almost all the apartments when they got to second to last apartment on the third floor. Clancy broke down the door and called out “Is anybody in here?” No one responded.
Clancy walked into the apartment anyway, through the living room and toward the back bedroom. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a person in the bathroom. It was an elderly man with a home oxygen tank.
“I think he was in just as much shock as I was,” Clancy, 38, said in a phone interview Friday, noting that smoke was heavy in the hallway at that point, but not yet heavy in the apartments. “It’s not everyday you find a fireman busting in your door.”
The Gastineau Apartments had long been considered at high risk for fire, the Empire also reported in a separate article. Read more: Firefighters recount saving civilian trapped in burning apartment building