Wingnut of the Week: Homeowner Says Firefighter’s Gear Set Off Explosion That Severely Burned Them

Today, I’m editing the most recent program from Firefighter NetCast which aired live Tuesday night, July 6, 2010. It was the Happy Hour with guest host Justin Schorr, a San Francisco firefighter/paramedic, and well-known blogger otherwise known as The Happy Medic. Many thanks to Justin, a natural for guest-hosting our podcast. We hope to have him back soon!

After eliminating about a thousand “uhhh’s” made by yours truly, and only about 8-9 minutes in, Justin has brought up the story of four Sacramento firefighters who were investigating an indoor natural gas leak at a home on Monday when the home suddenly exploded. The firefighters inside were all burned about the head, face, and arms from the blast, but all miraculously survived.

Here is a video from a press conference held earlier this week that gives quite a bit more detail into the incident and the investigation that continues, including a look at the conditions of the firefighters.

I did a quick follow-up on the story and became outraged when I saw the newest headline from the website where the original story broke on Tuesday.

It is here I found Fire Daily’s Wingnut of the Week.

According to that report, as our four brothers are just starting the recovery process from their extensive injuries, the homeowner named Chris Liu, sat in his car in front of what was left of the home, still dressed in his American Airlines pilots uniform last Tuesday and told investigators he suspected the firefighters caused the explosion.

Whoa. The firefighters blew themselves up?

He declined to be interviewed on camera, but from his car, the airline pilot reportedly speculated that the act of forcing entry into his home sparked the gas fumes. You know- the sparks and stuff that come off wood.

Or, he continued, maybe it was the static electricity in their clothing.

Yeah, that’s the ticket. Why don’t you investigators take a look at the static electricity theory.

Nice, Captain Liu.

Howabout we leave the flap settings, ILS intercepts, and all that other cockpitting crap to you, and let us do the firefighting and the associated investigation into an incident that nearly killed four of us.

By the way Captain, the professionals investigating the incident have already recovered evidence- “physical evidence” nonetheless- that indicates the incident was a deliberate act. You know, like the kind of criminal act that could potentially murder innocent people including your public servants, leaving their families forever crushed by the selfish act of one motivated to such evil.

According to acting Sacramento Fire Chief Lloyd Ogam, the evidence found by investigators would not normally be in a vacant home. Someone must have put it there, huh?

Maybe it was the combination of physical evidence AND the static electricity of the firemen’s clothing. also reports that Captain Liu (airline pilot, not fire captain or fire investigator captain) was “upset” that his wife had been questioned by investigators as to her knowledge of the incident.

So sorry to upset you, Captain Liu.

Although I was never taught the glideslope of a Airbus A320 on a crosswind landing at Albuquerque, my extensive training and experience as a long-time fire investigator teaches me that the questioning of your wife is a normal and necessary component of a comprehensive investigation into any fire incident, especially in what now looks to be a criminal act with near fatal consequences.

In fact, along with all parties that had an interest in the property, get ready to be asked the same questions, Mr. Liu. The gall of those investigators!

When you’re done Sherlocking the cause and origin of the incident, why not change out of your pilot’s uniform and pop on over to the UC-Davis burn unit to check how the brave firefighters and their wives and children are getting along during this horrifying ordeal at the vacant home you are fixing up? You know, the quarter of a million dollar home you reportedly bought last year for 38 grand after it foreclosed last summer.

Static electricity? Maybe.

Something else? Maybe.

See how premature and unfair it would be to come to a conclusion on this investigation, Captain Liu?  Now, many of us brothers and sisters are interested more than ever in the outcome of this one.

So settle back, relax and have a nice flight Captain Chris Liu.  You’ve earned your wings, sir.

Fire Daily’s Wingnut of the Week.

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John Mitchell

Firefighter/Paramedic and a Lieutenant in suburban Chicago

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