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Injured Firefighter Remembers Deadly Northern Liberties Blaze

Firefighter Ray Vozzelli was injured in a fast-moving fire in the 800 block of North 5th Street.

Firefighter Ray Vozzelli was injured in a fast-moving fire in the 800 block of North 5th Street.

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – An injured firefighter is remember the frightening call that sent him to the hospital. He was battling flames in a Northern Liberties home that claimed the life of a retired police officer.

It was a fast-moving fire in the 800 block of North 5th Street, when firefighter Ray Vozzelli and Ladder 2 arrived, he knew things were getting worse.

“I could feel the heat (coming from the house,” said Vozelli.

Vozzelli is nor recovering from injuries to his hand and ears. Eyewitness News was on the scene the capture video of the wounded firefighter being transported to an ambulance.

Watch the video…

The fire broke out Tuesday, March 29, and tore through the home of a retired Philadelphia police officer who was killed in the fire. Two other officers were also badly injured. (see related story)

“We made forceful entry, breaking the door down,” Vozelli said.

The firefighter says the house was pitch black and he was having a tough time seeing anything.

“I went on my knees in search mode, and as I was calling for help, I felt a blast of heat on my ear and I saw a flash and I knew from past experience, talking to other firefighters, I knew it was time to evacuate the building.”

The flash of heat caused the second degree burns to his ears and he lost one of his gloves, which allowed his hand to get burned. But he was able to make it out of the home.

Doctors tell Ray it will be a couple of weeks before he fully recovers and with 28-years of service in the department, it’s not hard to guess what he’ll do once that day comes.

“When I get released from medical care, I’ll be back in the firehouse. All we want to do is protect lives and protect people’s property.”

Reported by Valerie Levesque, CBS 3

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