Oklahoma Paramedic Rescues Woman in Apartment Fire

A Muskogee paramedic who rescued a woman from a building that was on fire was one of two people taken to Saint Francis Hospital Muskogee.
(Muskogee County EMS photo, Facebook)

Five people treated at Muskogee fire

Ronn Rowland, Muskogee Phoenix, Okla.

(MCT)

Jun. 2–A Muskogee paramedic who rescued a woman from a building that was on fire was one of two people taken to Saint Francis Hospital Muskogee on Tuesday.

The fire was at Greenleaf Apartments, 715 S. York St. One unit was destroyed, and several others were damaged.

Paramedic Matt Gardenhire was admitted for overnight observation, being treated for smoke inhalation. The other person is unidentified and was also admitted. Her condition is unknown.

Paramedic supervisor Chris Turner said when they arrived on the scene, they coordinated their efforts with the fire department.

“We asked them what they needed from us.” Turner said. “Some residents said there was a lady that lives in one of the corner apartments that they hadn’t seen and she was disabled. I sent Matt up there to look for her.”

Turner said when Gardenhire, also a shift supervisor with 13 years of service, got to the third floor, Gardenhire started yelling to let Turner know he got the lady out.

Gardenhire said when he got in the building, his visibility was limited.

“I could hear a voice screaming down the hallway,” he said. “After about 40-50 yards, I ran upon a lady that was laying on the floor screaming for help. I grabbed ahold of her and got her out.”

After getting the woman out, Gardenhire said he realized something wasn’t right.

“Within 10 minutes after I left the building I started getting sick,” he said. “But I went back in, up to the second floor which was still smoky – that wasn’t smart.”

Turner said paramedics set up a triage center in the parking lot of Green Country Bowling Lanes.

“We ended up treating five patients on scene and getting refusals on them, and one transport – so we had a total of six,” he said.

Muskogee Assistant Fire Chief Ben Terrell said the call came in at 7:14 a.m.

Firefighters were able to contain the fire to one unit on the third floor of a building in the southwest corner of the complex, and had the fire extinguished within an hour of the call.

“There was one unit gutted,” he said. “Units on each side have heavy smoke damage – that whole hall is going to have smoke damage. The apartment below it has water damage.”

Terrell said he is not allowing any of the residents back in to that part of the building.

“I’ve blocked off five rooms,” he said. “I don’t know how many people live in those rooms.”

While investigators are still looking into the cause of the fire, Terrell said one of his main concerns is the safety of all involved.

“I’m not letting anyone in right now because I’m worried that the ceiling may fall,” he said. “So we’re keeping people out right now.”

Muskogee Police Officer Lynn Hamlin said Rachel Sellers was taken to the hospital and is a suspect in the fire.

Management at the complex was unavailable for comment.

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