Elevator shaft the focus of Madisonville fatal fire accident - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Elevator shaft the focus of Madisonville fatal fire accident


There are many questions and so few answers after Thursday morning's tragedy. Daryl Gordon, a 30-year-fire veteran, died at University of Cincinnati Medical Center after he fell down an elevator shaft at around 6:30 a.m. while battling a fire inside a Madisonville apartment building.

One local expert says battling fires in multi-floor complexes poses numerous risks.

Crews are still out working on the complex that was on fire this morning and trying to piece together exactly how this happened.

Chilling radio traffic outlines the scene by the elevator was the focus of this mornings accident.

"Engine 8 to Command: do you want all these doors open on the fifth floor?"

Command: "If you can get them open without forcing them, I would like that to occur"

That was at 6:13 a.m. Nine minutes later, Engine 8 put out a mayday call.

"He fell down the elevator shaft to the first floor," said Command.

The decision to open the elevators was made in the moment. But why? Long time Miami Township police chief Jim Whitworth has many years of experience battling fires and says sometimes that is the right call.

"There are all sorts of hidden dangers as we realized this morning," said Whitworth, Scarlet Oaks supervisor of Fire and Emergency Medical Rescue Academy.

Whitworth now teaches at the Fire and Emergency Medical Rescue Academy at Scarlet Oaks says sometimes this is a move made to help ventilate the smoke, but it all depends on the structure of the building.

"Some elevator shafts have glass over the top or some place that would allow the smoke to escape," Whitworth said.

Clarence Mallory lives in the complex where the fire started and knows that elevator well. He says although it was an older model, it was working fine. But he says it's hard to believe the door opened when the elevator wasn't on the same floor as Gordon.

"It should have never opened when he did that because it wasn't on the fifth floor. You have to wait for it to come down to that floor for it to open up, you have to," Mallory said.

The King Towers Apartments is a five story building. Whitworth says this job is never easy because every fire is different when it comes to the building, the size of the fire, and how accessible the flames are.

"You're in a place where you can't see anything most of the time under these kinds of circumstances and you have to stay focused on self preservation and the preservation of your crew," said Whitworth.

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