By Annie Rose Ramos

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore City firefighter John McMaster was released from Shock Trauma on Thursday after recovering from injuries that he sustained while fighting a fire at a vacant house.

McMaster was the only firefighter to survive after the house partially collapsed around 6 a.m. on Monday—burying him, Lt. Paul Butrim, Lt. Kelsey Sadler, and Kenny Lacayo. McMaster was listed in critical condition on Monday. Butrim, Sadler, and Lacayo died of their injuries.

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McMaster was met by a line of fellow firefighters and hospital staff all cheering him on and clapping for the firefighter and he exited the hospital. He got up from his wheelchair and hugged his family and friends before leaving.

“It is an awesome sight to see, hopefully it gives our membership a little glimmer of hope in all of this dark time that we’re going through right now,” said Rich Lagford, President of Baltimore Firefighters IAFF Local 734.

Roughly fifty firefighters were outside Shock Trauma Thursday in support of McMaster.

Among them was Battalion Chief Josh Fannon, President of Baltimore Fire Officers IAFF Local 964, “we were there primarily to support our brother getting out of the hospital to show him some hope, pay our respects to him, he’s going through something difficult.”
Fannon said it was important for members of the City Fire Department to be there Thursday for Mcmaster, “we lined up like we do for funeral processions but it was to clap in support of him.”
“To see the brotherhood as the public saw today, the members lined up on the street….we are one big family and we are all suffering right now and hopefully that just gives a little bit of a smile to everybody and a little sigh of relief that things are gonna get better in the future,” Langford said.

Fire Chief Niles Ford posthumously promoted Sadler to lieutenant.

The four firefighters went inside of the vacant house on South Stricker Street to keep the flames from spreading to the next house, which was occupied.

Battalion Chief Chris Hutson told WTOP’s Megan Cloherty that Lacayo was “pretty bad from the waist down” but talking. It took an hour for rescue workers to remove him and Sadler from the debris. It took an excavator and 10 hours for rescue workers to remove Butrim.

Two of the firefighters were in cardiac arrest when they arrived at Shock Trauma. Several hours after the collapse, officials confirmed that the three of them had died.

Butrim and Sadler were with the fire department for 15 years, Lacayo was with the department for seven years, and McMaster has been with the department for six years.

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Lacayo was paramedic of the year in 2016 and in 2018, he and his unit received a citation for saving someone after a pedestrian was struck by a car.

Butrim was recognized with a Valor Award in 2015 from Firehouse Magazine for rescuing an unconscious child trapped in a house fire and performing CPR until EMS units arrived.

“Baltimore owes them the deepest gratitude and respect,” Mayor Brandon Scott said.

During Wednesday’s Board of Public Works meeting, Governor Larry Hogan acknowledged what has become one of the deadliest days in the Baltimore fire department’s history with a moment of silence.

The death of the three firefighters has prompted people to speak out about the mismanagement of the vacant houses in Baltimore. There are more than 15,000 of them in the city.

Baltimore City Housing Commissioner Alice Kennedy noted that tackling the problem created by vacant houses “isn’t a straight line.”

The vacant house that collapsed on the firefighters had $50,000 worth of liens, taxes, and interest against it.

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Annie Rose Ramos