2 Springfield firefighters to get state honor for actions to save child in explosion, fire

Two Springfield firefighters who saved a child in an explosion and fire last year are being honored by two state departments.

Springfield Fire Rescue Division firefighters Robert Bloom and Aaron Lopez will be honored next week with the Fire Service Valor Award by the Ohio Department of Commerce Division of State Fire Marshal and Ohio Department of Public Safety Division of EMS at the 43rd annual Ohio Fire Service Hall of Fame & Fire Awards ceremony.

The ceremony takes place each year to recognize the valor, dedication and exemplary service of fire service members from across the state.

Bloom and Lopez will be recognized for their response after an apartment explosion caused by natural gas in April 2023.

That day, crews were dispatched to an apartment complex at 1037 E. Home Road on a report of a gas leak. Bloom, Lopez, Collin Downing, Ross Angelo and Isaiah Johnson were all responding to the incident.

When the first medic crew with Angelo and Johnson arrived on scene, they smelled gas and began directing bystanders away from the building. The next unit with Downing and Bloom arrived shortly after, and as Downing was positioning the engine, the building exploded. The explosion caused structural damage to the apartment complex and caused a large portion of the front wall and roof to collapse. Fire erupted on the first and second floors.

Shortly after the explosion, two adults, both Haitian immigrants, exited the rubble with severe injuries, and one of the victim’s clothes were still burning. Angelo and Johnson immediately came to her aid, extinguished the flames and rendered medical treatment.

Although there were language barriers, crews understood a child was still inside on the second floor of the apartment. Bloom and Lopez entered the building to rescue the child. While they were inside, Angelo manned the outside handline to keep the fire at bay until the rescue was complete, Johnson began treating the victims by himself, and Downing readied the squad operations and helped to deploy the initial handline.

Bloom and Lopez moved across the rubble pile, through the first floor, and to the crib on the second floor. They found the child, alert and covered by debris, in the crib. They grabbed the child and quickly removed her out of the building.

The then 11-month-old girl suffered burns but was released from the hospital later that month. The baby’s mother, Macdala Ducatel, 39, died on April 15, and Ducatel’s sister, Edeline Ducatel, on April 10.

Bloom and Lopez were also awarded the the Medal of Valor, the fire division’s highest honor, with Downing, Angelo and Johnson being awarded with the Meritorious Service Medal, for risking their lives. The awards were part of Clark State College and the Springfield Fire Rescue Division’s fire academy graduation ceremony earlier this year.

During this year’s state ceremony, Bloom and Lopez will be among nearly a dozen from across Ohio to be honored.

The ceremony will be held from 2 to 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 24, inside Gallery I at COSI, 333 W. Broad St. in Columbus.

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