Family reunites with firefighters who saved them 10 years after blaze


UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Ohio (WJW)– Ten years after a devastating fire, one University Heights family reunited with the firefighters who saved them.

It happened on Milton Avenue in 2011. During the rescue, Paul Nees and two other firefighters were hit by what’s called a flashover, which is essentially a large burst of flames.

Flashovers are sometimes fatal events for firefighters. We were fortunate in our situation that the three of us were not killed,” Nees said.

The other two firefighters had minor injuries, but more than 25 percent of Nees’ body was burned. He was able to return after about six months.

His gear from that night is hung up in the firehouse as a constant reminder of the chances firefighters take every day.

“We decided to hang it here in the engine bay so that it’s a reminder this thing can happen to anybody at any time. Every time the guys come down the stairs, get on a rig, it’s a possibility,” Nees said.

Nees is retired now. He credits care from local hospitals and his wife for helping him through recovery.

As for the family, their house was rebuilt and they’re still living there today.

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