McMinnville Members Save Man Trapped in Apartment Fire

December 9 • 2020

A McMinnville, Oregon, man escaped a burning apartment building thanks to the quick thinking of two McMinnville Local 3099 members – Michael Flores and Gary Steindorf.

“I am very proud of the brave actions of our McMinnville members,” says 9th District Vice President Ray Rahne. “They stayed calm under pressure and made the smart decisions to get the apartment resident to safety.”

“Flores and Steindorf are true professionals,” says Local 3099 President Todd Godfrey. “They called on their experience and training rapidly to assess the situation and took quick action. Because of what they did, the man escaped the building uninjured.”

The Local 3099 members were among the first to arrive on the scene of the McMinnville apartment fire believed to have started in the kitchen of one of the units. Responding police officers had conducted an evacuation of the building but were unsure if the second floor was fully clear as someone reported hearing footsteps.

The two took their pressure water cans to the second floor to see if they could determine the source of the footsteps.

“Once we got there, we knew it wasn’t a kitchen fire, and our portable units were not going to be helpful. Visibility was minimal due to all of the smoke,” says Steindorf. “We started a search of the floor, knocking on every door until we got an answer.”

The elderly man trapped inside his apartment said he had been searching for his wallet. By the time he was ready to leave, the smoke was too thick to see.

“A quick assessment of the situation told us it would be too risky to go back out the way we came,” says Flores. “Breaking and exiting out a window was going to be a best option. The radios were tied up with incoming responders, so we had to yell from the window to get the attention of one of the police officers on the ground.”

The ladder truck had just arrived on scene, so officers directed the truck to the window.

Flores and Steindorf helped the apartment resident down the ladder and checked him for any medical concerns. The resident did not need to be transported to a hospital and was reported to be doing okay on follow up.