EXCLUSIVE REPORT: His colleagues thought Fire Capt. Paul Kearns was doing fine after falling 15 feet through a roof while fighting a stubborn Hackensack blaze, but the truth was that he tore several muscles in his lower back and “is lucky to be alive,” his wife, Colleen, told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .
Teaneck Fire Capt. Paul Kearns
(CLIFFVIEW PILOT PHOTO: Courtesy Police Pipes and Drums of Bergen County)
ONLY ON CLIFFVIEW PILOT: Mairead Kearns turned 8 today, but her dad — injured Teaneck Fire Capt. Paul Kearns — got the birthday treat when she, her older brother Aedan and their mom, Colleen, brought the celebration to the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in Saddle Brook. READ MORE….
Kearns was released from Hackensack University Medical Center on Thursday and is undergoing rehabilitation at the Kessler Institute.
Doctors said he must remain in a brace for six to eight weeks, Colleen Kearns told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .
At that point, she said, they’ll determine whether he needs surgery or can continue rehab.
“They told him he’s very lucky,” Kearns’ wife told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . “He has very strong muscles.
“His spirits are great,” she added. “He’s very determined. He can’t wait to get back to playing ball with his son.”
The couple have a boy, 9-year-old Aedan, and a girl, Mairead, who turned 8 today.
Kearns was on the roof of an enclosed rear porch, helping his colleagues from Hackensack fight a fast-moving blaze last Saturday, when it gave way and he fell through.
“At first he didn’t have any feeling in his legs,” one Teaneck firefighter told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . “He fell right on his back.”
He landed on his fully-loaded SCBA pack , Colleen Kearns said.
She also said her husband actually got out of bed while in the hospital, leading some to believe he was OK, despite some minor burns and punctures.
Trouble was: He hadn’t been fully examined yet, she said.
The fire was ignited by a propane tank that exploded during a barbecue, a Hackensack fire official told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .Kearns fell through this roof (FIRE PHOTOS, VIDEO by Mike Villanova)
Fifty firefighters from several companies responded to the three-alarm blaze at 265 Clinton Place , which, “from the looks of it, appears accidental,” the official told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .
Kearns, the co-founder of the the Bergen County Firefighters Pipe Band (BCFPB), has been with the Teaneck department more than 17 years. He was also a member of the Police Pipes and Drums of Bergen County.
An active member of the New Jersey Firefighter’s Mutual Benevolent Association, Kearns is a senior research associate at The Christian Regenhard Center for Emergency Response Studies.
He is also an adjunct professor of fire science at John Jay College.
Both are in New York City.
Two other people with minor injuries were treated following the explosion and subsequent fire, which blew quickly through the house.
It took nearly four hours for firefighters to fully extinguish the blaze, which destroyed the house, which will have to be razed.
Flames quickly spread through the interior walls and along the second floor of the back of the building.
Besides Teaneck, companies that assisted included Bogota, Maywood, Ridgefield Park and River Edge.
Hackensack and Bogota EMS also responded.
The fire began in a rear enclosed porch, where Kearns was injured, and then quickly spread through the 2 ½ -story house.
Flames popped from various spots, eventually shooting through a hole that firefighters opened in the roof out front — as well as through a second-floor window in back.
This video by Mike Villanova captures the danger of the fire, the removal of Kearns and the aftermath:
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