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4 Chula Vista firefighters recovering from injuries after battling fire at shoe store

Posted at 6:06 AM, Jan 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-27 09:36:06-05

CHULA VISTA, Calif. (KGTV) -- Four Chula Vista firefighters are still recovering from their injuries sustained while fighting a fire Monday night at a shoe store.

Fire officials said three of the firefighters suffered burns and the fourth injured their ankle. One firefighter is still hospitalized with second-degree burns to 20% of his upper body, the other three have been released from the hospital.

The fire started around 6 p.m. Monday night, it was fueled by gusty winds, taking firefighters about two hours to put it out completely.

The Chula Vista Firefighters Union president Darrell Roberts was at the fire Monday night. He says it was a very difficult night for the department.

"Yesterday was one of the worst days for the Chula Vista Fire Department that we've had in a very long time," says Roberts.

According to Roberts, after evacuating four people from inside of the building, the firefighters moved in. Then conditions quickly changed and the firefighters were overcome by heat and were forced to retreat. When they realized they were hurt, they were rushed to the hospital.

Firefighters were also dealing with downed power lines and a roof collapse that happened after their injuries.

Roberts credits the passing of Measure A for saving the firefighters' lives. The measure was approved by voters in June of 2018, authorizing a half-cent sales tax increase to fund public safety and staffing services.

"We recently passed a measure that added the fourth firefighter to our fire engine and we firmly believe that helped save lives last night," says Roberts.

Roberts explains the firefighters have a long road to recovery because of their burns but says they are receiving peer support from the union, both physically and emotionally.

"Any time you have a burn, it's a significant injury- whether it's a small percentage or a large, it is life-changing," explains Roberts.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.