Two D.C. firefighters seriously burned with two others inside a Northeast bungalow earlier this month are telling their stories to FOX 5.
Robert Alvarado and Warren Deavers sustained third-degree burns on their arms when they were caught in a vicious flashover.
Both men believe they were seconds from death before finding the door and crawling to safety.
Alvarado and Deavers say they are alive today because of the intense training they have received over the years and the instincts that come with the job.
It was just after midnight on April 8 when Alvarado, Deavers and two others suddenly found themselves engulfed in flames.
For the first responders on Truck 13 and Rescue Squad 3, there was nothing unusual about the fire reported inside a bungalow on 48th Place in northeast D.C.
"Handled it like any other run we would go on,” said Lieutenant Alvarado. "The same way each time, we're very methodical with the procedures we go by and we follow them to the letter. We treat every run the same way.”
On trucks, engines and rescue squads, the personnel all have very specific duties. On this night, the job pulled Alvarado, Deavers, Ramon Hounshell and Charles Ryan inside the living room of the house where a sudden flashover had them on the ground, crawling for their lives.
"It wasn't fiery debris,” said Lt. Alvarado. “It was fire, there was no debris, it went from tenable to untenable to the only things that fell on us were the gates of hell. That’s it.
We were completely engulfed in flames all the way down on the floor, flames all around us and at that point, just kind of kept our cool. It's our job, it's what we do and you’re trained to deal with it.”
Three of the men made it out on their own. The fourth was saved by a rapid rescue team.
"We knew where we were going,” said Deavers. "We went in the right direction right off the bat and it’s something that they train you to do. You don't lose your cool. You have to keep your wits about you to make it out.”
Alvarado sustained burns to his arms and hands. Deavers was burned on his upper left arm while Sgt. Hounshell was burned on the his arms and head. He declined to comment on camera.
A fourth firefighter, Charles Ryan, is still hospitalized with third-degree burns.
The two now can't say enough for the help and support they have received since the fire.
"Guys on the job are basically here volunteering 24 hours a day while the guys are up here with their families making sure they have everything they need,” said Alvarado.
"An overwhelming amount of people came in to donate blood in honor of us and that's awesome,” Deavers added.
Alvarado and Deavers have been released from the burn unit. Hounshell and Ryan are still hospitalized.
Both firefighters praised the overwhelming support they have received from city residents as well as fellow firefighters throughout the region and the country.
They were especially thankful for the non-profit D.C. Firefighters Burn Foundation which is providing meals and hotels for the firefighters’ families.