Two firefighters killed in a blaze today were identified as Stephen A. Machcinski, 42, and James Dickman, 31. Mr. Machcinski was appointed in 1998 and assigned to Engine No. 3, and Mr. Dickman, recently appointed Sept. 3, 2013. The firefighters' names were released at a press conference. Fire Chief Luis Santiago promised an investigation of the incident.
Toledo mayor D. Michael Collins asked that flags be flown at half-staff on Monday.
The victims were taken from a residential building at Huron and Magnolia streets that includes a first-floor market about 3:30 p.m. today.
Dr. Maneesha Pandey, a Lucas County deputy coroner, said two firefighter deaths were reported to the office around 6 p.m. She said the names are not being released pending family notification and identification.
Autopsies are scheduled for Monday.
A coroner's investigator is still at the hospital, but did not go to the scene of the fire, she said.
Mr. Collins arrived at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center after the two firefighters were brought there, where a large crowd of Toledo Fire Department personnel gathered.
Dozens of firefighters gathered at their union hall downtown after the tragedy. The room was silent and many in the crowd stood with somber faces drinking coffee while awaiting official news — although all already knew that two of their own had been killed in the line of duty.
Dan Desmond, Toledo Firefighters Local 92 vice president, said he personally knew the two fallen firefighters but couldn't talk about them.
“Everyone is just numb right now,” said Mr. Desmond, a longtime firefighter.
Firefighters and police officers remained at scene of the fatal fire for hours after the blaze. Investigators could be seen moving inside the building. Toledo fire investigator Glen Frames declined to comment on the investigation or the cause of the fire.
Earlier, some residents of the apartment complex said they had fled their homes when fire broke out.
Tracy Bishop, one of the tenants of the near downtown Toledo building that is located close to the Huron Market, said she was in her apartment when she heard the nearby garage door open and then heard it shut.
Suddenly, flames were shooting across her ceiling. She fled, shouting to a nearby neighbor to get out. “It wasn't just smoke. It was fire,” she said. Ray Abou, owner of the building, said there were seven tenants in six apartments, and that he believed all tenants had escaped the building. One tenant said her “pit #8226” puppy was unable to flee the burning structure.
Mr. Abou said he heard that the cause of the fire might be electrical in nature. Patricia Rollins, who lives in the complex, said she smelled burned wire. At about 4:15 p.m. firefighters continued to work at the scene. Among equipment were five fire engines.
Press release from the Toledo Fire Department:
It is with great sadness that we report the death of two Toledo Firefighters.
Private Stephen A. Machcinski, 42 years of age, with approximately 16 years of service, and Private James A. Dickman, 31 years of age, with approximately six months of service, died yesterday during structural firefighting operations.
Both Privates Machcinski and Dickman were assigned to Engine 3, and were responding to a structure fire at 528 Magnolia Street in North Toledo. In the course of their duties during firefighting operations, both firefighters suffered serious injuries. In a valiant rescue effort by their comrades, they were pulled from the structure and immediately given medical care by their fellow firefighters. Both firefighters were transported to St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center were life saving efforts continured until they succumbed to their injuries.
As dictated by Fire Department policy, a formal and detailed investigation will occur to determine the cause of the fire as well as the cause and manner of the deaths of Private Machcinski and Private Dickman.
Privates Machcinski and Dickman become the 48th and 49th Toledo Firefighters to die in the line of duty in the 177 year history of the Toledo Fire & Rescue Department.
May they rest in peace.