Firefighter injured trying to save man engulfed in flames

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

TEMPE, Ariz. -- One man was killed and the firefighter who tried desperately to save him was injured in an early morning fire in Tempe.

It happened at about 6:45 a.m. Friday at Flagstone Apartments near U.S. 60 and Mill Avenue.

According to Mike Reichling of the Tempe Fire Department, crews have been called to this particular condo on several occasions.

"This gentleman has a lot of major medical issues and is in a wheelchair," he explained. "We've been here many times."

Not only was the victim's home on fire, he himself was fully engulfed in flames when fire crews arrived on the scene. One of those firefighters, Thomas Lamp, immediately jumped off the truck and ran into the condo -- without his gear -- to get the victim out.

"The firefighter, a six-year veteran of the department, risked his own life, ran right into the fire and pulled that gentleman out. … The gentleman was completely on fire," Reichling said. "[Lamp] pulled him away from the fire and extinguished him."

The 63-year-old victim, who has not been identified, suffered extremely serious burns to about 75 percent of his body and later died of his injuries.

Because Lamp did not have his gloves on, he suffered second-degree burns to his right hand. Second-degree burns extend into the layer of skin between the epidermis and the subcutaneous tissue. Such burns often involve blistering and tend to be extremely painful. It will probably take a couple of weeks, but Lamp, who works out of Tempe Fire Station No. 2, is expected to make a full recovery.

Firefighters rescued two other men from two upstairs units. Neither one of those people was injured.

"There was a lot of smoke and fire lapping up to the second floor," Reichling said. "We were able to get those gentlemen down the stairs without incident."

At this point, it's not known what sparked the fire.

"We're going to do the investigation until we identify exactly what happened here," Reichling said.

The fire affected a total of four units.