WATCH: Incredible Toronto Fire rescue during townhouse fire

Firefighters climb up captain's body like a ladder after floor collapse

Emergency crews tend to a firefighter who was hurt while beating back flames at a Junction-area home
Photo: CTV News

Three firefighters escaped serious injury after an incredible rescue during a townhouse fire in the city's west end.

The blaze broke out in the basement of a home on Perth Ave., in the Dupont St. and Lansdowne Ave. area. The cause is unknown, but no one is believed to have been home when it started.

Three firefighters including acting captain Dave Mergelas were near the back door of the home when the floor suddenly collapsed.

"It was like being on a ride," the 23 year veteran tells Newstalk 1010 and CTV News. "One minute you're at one level and the next minute you're in the basement. There was no warning. It was a little bit surprising it would happen that fast."

The married father of three called in a mayday as he grabbed a hold of the doorframe as he went down. While he was hanging on, his colleagues were able to free themselves by climbing over him like a ladder.

He was then pulled to safety.

One of the three fire fighters involved in the collapse, a woman with about 4 years of experience, cut her foot when her boot came of. She was treated for minor injuries. Another firefighter also went to hospital with an elevated heart rate.

Mergelas says his first thought was how he could get his other crew members to safety and then relied on his training during the heart-pounding few minutes when the roof collapsed.

The firefighters had a hose with them inside the home and Mergelas says they were able to spray back the flames rising up towards the collapsed floor.

"The hose line saved our lives," said Mergelas, who made sure to send his wife a text message to let her know he was okay.

"The crew did a really good job," said Toronto Fire Division Commander Andrew Kostiuk. "Shows the benefit of really good training...although it looks really dramatic, we do train for this."

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