Firefighter injured in church blaze remains in hospitalby Tim Nelson, Minnesota Public Radio,
Brandt Williams, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — All but one of the firefighters injured in a weekend church fire have been released from Hennepin County Medical Center.
The five were hurt in the blaze that destroyed the Walker Community United Methodist Church on Sunday night at 16th Avenue S. and 31st Street E. in south Minneapolis. Cpt. Kathrynne Baumtrog, a 13-year veteran, is currently being treated at Hennepin County Medical Center.
Deputy fire chief Todd Steinhilber said that most of the injuries were minor.
"They're not life-threatening injuries, but she does have some significant burns," he said.
Steinhilber said that it isn't clear when Baumtrog will return to duty.
The fire started during a thunderstorm, and witnesses nearby said they believed lightning may have struck the church and started the fire. But its cause remains under investigation.
Minneapolis Fire Chief John Fruetel said the number of firefighter injuries and the number of workdays missed by injured firefighters have been increasing over the last several years.
Fruetel said most injuries occur when firefighters slip and fall at fire scenes and break bones or tear ligaments. And he said those can add up to a lot of lost shifts.
"When you have the slips that require an ACL surgery on a knee — that's going to take a year to recover from," he said. "That's where it gets to be really challenging, when those folks are injured for a year with rehabilitation."
Fruetel said one of his biggest challenges is making sure there are enough firefighters available to perform important tasks at fires.
Tim Nelson is a general assignment reporter for MPR News.