Two of the three Dallas firefighters critically injured in an apartment gas explosion returned to work on Tuesday two days before the one-year anniversary of the explosion.
Capt. Christopher Gadomski, Engineer Ron Hall and Firefighter Pauline Perez were investigating a gas leak in an apartment complex in Oak Cliff.
Hall told reporters says he was about to evacuate when he saw fellow firefighter Perez enter the unit where the leak was detected. “I was like I’ve got to get her out of that apartment. As soon as I stepped in, it blew.”
Hours before the explosion, Dallas police charged a man for firing a gun in the apartment. The bullet hit the stove and the gas line, according to reports.
“I’ve been a paramedic for 20 years. I thought this is pretty bad. I don’t feel it. I’m going to be the guy you read about in the paper,” he said. “When I heard Captain Gadomski, he was trapped. I said, ‘Hold on captain. I’m coming!’ But once I pushed debris off, then I felt the pain. I realized my leg was broken. I had to bail out on the cap. I said, ‘Cap, I’m not coming.’”
Captain Gadomski managed to make it out alive as did Perez, who is still recovering.
“My legs were both pretty much blown apart,” the captain said. “Doctors and nurses and Parkland did a great job for all of us.”
Gadomski had burns to 30 percent of his body and went into cardiac arrest.
“To come back before a year and be 100% is pretty incredible,” he said. “It’s what I love.”
Perez told reporters: “My hopes are to return full duty, but I can’t rush the recovery process. Third-degree burns to your hands are no easy recovery, but I’m making the most of my second chance at life.”
With their own bodies now healed, Hall and Gadomksi are back to work to save others’ lives.