Firefighters: Richmond Hts. house fire so intense it melted their equipment

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RICHMOND HEIGHTS, Ohio — Several Richmond Heights firefighters say the house fire they encountered Saturday night burned with an intensity they seldom see. Yet they pressed forward into a fire so hot their gear began to melt all because of the faint sound of a man trapped inside.

"If you can think of how hot this is for a person to be inside there with no protection just jeans and a t-shirt on, for them to survive is incredible," said Lt. Jason Buss holding partially melted gear.

Firefighters say they were called to the Richmond Road home shortly after 8 p.m. and were told by a woman outside one person was still in the house.

"This is a lot of heat," said Lt. Buss holding damaged helmet and face mask made to withstand heat from 300 to 500 degrees. "We go on a number of fires a year and we don't have this kind of damage to our equipment on most of the fires."

According to Cuyahoga County Property Records George Zetzer is listed as the home owner. Firefighters say the man rescued sustained burns to his face and body and is recovering at a local hospital.

"I've been a firefighter going on 20 years now and I've not been in a fire with that amount of clutter and debris to hamper firefighting efforts," said Lt. Buss. "It was incredible and an incredible amount of difficulties we had due to conditions at the home."

The fire is still under investigation but firefighters say it appears newspapers next to the fireplace caught on fire which then spread through the home. Fire crews add the man rescued is a local artist and had paint lacquers, thinners and other materials inside the house that can contribute to a large fire.

"It's just a great thing they were able to save and make a positive impact on that person's life," said Lt. Buss. "It doesn't happen that often."

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