Firefighter struck by bullet battling blaze in Gilbert

A Gilbert neighborhood had quite the scare today when a house went up in flames, setting off dozens of rounds of ammunition.
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A Gilbert neighborhood had quite the scare today when a house went up in flames, setting off dozens of rounds of ammunition.
 
The explosions shot debris everywhere, a bullet even struck a firefighter in the face.
 
Firefighters say battling large flames is challenging enough, but add in tons of ammunition and the danger factor goes way up.
 
“I saw huge black, billowing clouds of smoke coming from the neighborhood a couple streets over as I was driving, so I circled back around [and] there were flames billowing out of the garage,” said Neighbor Maureen Poirier.
 
Thick black smoke, exploding ammunition, and flying debris…neighbors say it was like something you'd see in the movies.
 
"It was like firecrackers, like I guess there was a lot of ammunition in the garage and it was popping and there were things flying out of the garage and it was very loud," Poirier said.
 
Just after 10:00 a.m. Sunday, the Gilbert Fire Department received several calls about a house on fire, but when they arrived, they realized there were more than just flames to battle.
 
"Apparently the homeowner may have been reloading some ammunition in his garage and something went wrong and so we had one of our firefighters was actually struck in the face with a bullet that was discharged, fortunately he did have his mask on and so he was not harmed at all," said Capt. Gary Hilderbrandt with the Gilbert Fire Department.
 
Ron DeLong, who took this video, says the ammunition fired off for about half an hour, creating confusion and concern among neighbors. 
 
"Everyone's all like 'those are fireworks' and I'm like 'no, those are bullets', cause you can tell the difference," said DeLong.
 
Miraculously, no one was seriously hurt or killed, including the homeowner who only suffered minor injuries.
 
“He did have some burns to his face and his hands, and so we transported him to Maricopa County Burn Unit for treatment,” Hilderbrandt said. 
 
And thanks to fast acting firefighters, the damage can be fixed.
 
"We did walk the neighborhood,” Hilderbrandt said. “I mean you can find there's bullet shells everywhere, there's bullets laying all over the place, the houses across the streets from it had bullets lodged in their doors and in the glass."
 
The firefighter who was struck with a bullet received medical treatment and is okay. 
 
Officials also warn to keep extra ammunition in fire proof containers.

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