San Francisco News

Chief: Firefighter has damaged respiratory system

Friday, June 03, 2011
Tony Valerio Looking into the science of a flashover

There is no change in status for a 53-year-old firefighter critically injured while battling a house fire in the Diamond Heights neighborhood of San Francisco on Thursday.

Firefighter Anthony Valerio remains in critical condition at San Francisco's General Hospital, where he is currently on a respirator. Officials say Valerio has burns to 12 percent of his body.

"Right now he's cooled down," brother Mark Valerio said. "They will warm him up, then bring in a neurologist to see the extent of his damages, to see if anything brain-wise is bad."

Valerio's brother says the burned firefighter isn't aware of anything and is "totally unconscious."

According to San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White, Valerio has "significant damage to his respiratory system" and burns across his body after yesterday's fire.

Hayes-White said yesterday's fire seemed like a routine blaze until the sudden explosion of oxygen-starved flames, known as a "flashover," knocked Valerio off his feet and killed his partner, Lt. Vincent Perez.

Firefighters saluted Perez's body as it was carried out of San Francisco General Hospital yesterday. Perez's ex-wife Patricia Richardson, who works inside the hospital, filled in details about what kind of man the city had lost.

"He's a hero," Richardson said. "he has a lot of friends who love him and care for him."

"People are trying to stay upbeat although the news is pretty grim right now," brother Valerio said. "We still have no idea if it will go one way or another."

San Francisco Fire Deputy Chief Mike Gardner said most of Valerio's burns were from steam and not from fire, adding that the temperature inside the structure was between 500 and 700 degrees.

Tony Valerio, the eldest of seven children, is not married. Valerio, whose visor was melted from the intense flames, has been unconscious since firefighters rescued him from the burning two-story building yesterday.

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fire, fire safety, san francisco news, wayne freedman
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