CRIME

Firefighter Falls Through Burning Roof In Frightening Scene Caught On Video

03/31/2015 05:26 am ET | Updated Mar 31, 2015

A Fresno, California, firefighter is in critical condition after falling through the roof of a burning garage in a frightening scene that was caught on video Sunday.

The footage shows a wall of flames shooting up from the garage, engulfing Capt. Pete Dern after the roof gives way under his feet.

CAUTION: The video above may be difficult to watch and contains some NSFW language.

The Fresno Fire Department released the video to local media to highlight the extreme dangers firefighters face on a regular basis.

Dern, 49, was pulled out of the flames within minutes by firefighters and bystanders.

We could hear people screaming. We could hear people running in to help. I have to believe it was traumatic for the citizens to watch, too," Battalion Chief Todd Tuggle told the Fresno Bee.

Dern suffered second- and third-degree burns over about 65 percent of his body, Fresno City Firefighters - Local 753 wrote on Facebook.

"He is still in critical condition and has a long road to recovery, physicians estimate 14 to 15 more surgeries in the several months to come," the update said, calling the 25-year veteran one of the most respected fire captains and a mentor to many in the department.

"He had burns that went all the way around his extremity," Dr. William Dominic told NBC News. "We'll be taking care of Mr. Dern for a long time."

Dominic told the network that Dern was being given enough medication to be "comfortable but not totally comatose."

In addition to the burns, Dern also suffered inhalation injuries, the Fresno Bee reported. The newspaper said he was on the roof to provide ventilation, a standard technique in fighting this type of fire, before falling into the building. The fall occurred in full view of both his fellow firefighters and a crowd of bystanders who had gathered to watch the blaze.

"I almost had an anxiety attack because we didn't know what was going to happen. I honestly didn't think he was going to make it," bystander Sooji Lee, who caught the scene on video, told the local ABC station.

An online fundraiser has been set up to help Dern and his family. Those wishing to contribute, and follow his progress, can do so at this link.

"It is obvious to family and friends Pete is trying to communicate and he understands their words which is comforting," wrote fundraiser organizer Karey Wedemeyer in the latest update.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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