Long road to recovery for injured Delaware firefighter

BRANDYWINE SPRINGS, Del. (WPVI) -- Just one look at the fire and the intensity and danger is evident. Ferocious flames consumed a home along Mill Creek Road in Brandywine Springs, Delaware on Thursday.

The homeowners were not injured but Captain Dave Smiley Jr. with the Minquas Fire Company was not so lucky.

He was trapped after falling through the second floor onto the first floor.

His family was devastated when they got the news.

"It was heart-stopping," says his mother, Lynn Smiley

"It is scary. It could be a typical fire and you think everything is going great and something like that happens. He said 'dad I thought I was going to die.' It's tough," said his dad, Dave Smiley Sr.

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Firefighter falls through floor battling blaze in Delaware. Watch this report from Action News at 4pm on March 14, 2019.

His mom and dad tell Action News that Captain Smiley has second and third-degree burns to about 10 percent of his body and is recovering at Crozer Burn Center.

"It is one of those things you don't want to happen. You don't want to hear about it. It's a very scary and emotional thing to happen," said Joe Dierolf, Minquas Fire Company Chief.

Loved ones say the healing process will be a long one but they are thankful this wasn't worse.

"He needs some skin grafts, he has a lot of surgeries to go through, a lot of recovery and rehab time. We don't know exactly what that looks like, they said that changes day to day. So it just a wait and see kind of game," says Lynn

Investigators ruled that the fire was caused by an electrical issue in the laundry room.
It's a dangerous job but fire crews understand the risk and work hard to prepare for whatever comes their way. The Minquas Fire Company says it's overwhelmed by all the well wishes and support for Captain Smiley.

"We even had one offer from New York, a paid city department, that said that their off crew would come down and cover our station for us on their off time, which was outstanding," says Curt Clifton, President of the Minquas Fire Company.

In this message on social media, Captain Smiley said when we woke up, he was hoping being injured was all a dream but it was not. His family says as he recovers in his hospital room, he definitely is feeling the outpouring of love from the community.

"He put it on Facebook last night that 'I love you all,' so that is probably pretty much how he feels. He's grateful," says his dad.

A GoFundMe Page as been setup for medical and living expenses.
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