Three injured in Middletown house fire

By: Brittany Comak

Email: bcomak@abc6.com

Twitter: @BComakABC6

MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (WLNE) – Three people are in the hospital after a fire tore through a home on Woolsey Road in Middletown Tuesday morning.

One of them was a Newport firefighter. The other two were a father and daughter.

Now the Middletown fire union president is pointing to Tuesday’s fire as an example of the risks that come with them constantly being under-staffed.

Two neighboring departments got to the fire before the Middletown department could even get on scene, which created a delay in putting out the fire and getting the people hurt to the hospital.

The father actually ran back inside the home to find and rescue his daughter.

“They both had burns. And Teddy, by the grace of God, Teddy went in and saved his daughter,” described family member Luis Mateos II. “I heard his pants were melted onto his legs, and he saved her life thank god.”

The 9-1-1 call for the fire came in around 11:15 in the morning.

But at that time the only staff at the Middletown Fire Department was out at another emergency, meaning they’re unable to respond.

“Our engine and our rescue were out on another call,” said Fire Chief Peter Faerber. “It extended our response time. The nearest engine came from Newport. May have extended it by a couple of minutes.”

But according to Jordan, it took the Newport Fire Department almost eight minutes to get to the house, then the naval fire department showed up, then finally Middletown almost ten minutes after the original 9-1-1 call.

“There was a delay in getting any apparatus there because we’re not adequately staffed with firefighters and mutual aid is so far away,” said Jordan.

It’s a problem that the department has been dealing with for more than ten years and one they are currently in arbitration with the town over.

“And they just refuse to acknowledge that we lack in staffing,” said Jordan. “And that puts us in the situation like we had today.”

The town council president declined to comment.

Jordan says had they been fully staffed Tuesday, they would have been at the house within three minutes.

“The faster we can get to the scene, the faster we can mitigate the problems, the faster we can provide treatment, and it’s usually a better outcome,” he said.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

© WLNE-TV 2019