One firefighter is in critical condition and another was hurt trying to save him after both plunged from the roof of a house at 153 American Legion Highway Thursday night. They were there with other fire crews from Westport and Tiverton to fight a chimney fire.
“During the operations on the roof of the 2.5 story house, Firefighter Steven Lopes, 47, a seven-year veteran of the Westport Fire Department, slipped on ice and fell approximately 30 feet to the ground,” Fire Chief Brian R. Legendre said Friday morning.
“He was treated on scene by Westport firefighters and transported to Rhode Island Hospital with multiple traumatic injuries in critical condition.”
Known throughout the region for his Portuguese Fireman comedy act, Mr. Lopes is “an all around great guy,” the chief said.
“He is a very dedicated father of two — they are his life” — a 10-year-old son and a 13-year-old daughter.
A second firefighter, Robert Manchester, 41, “also fell during his selfless attempt to stop firefighter Lopes from falling,” the chief said.
Firefighter Manchester fell approximately ten feet and landed on a dormer at the first floor level. He was pulled to safety through a second floor window.
A Tiverton rescue crew took him to Charlton Memorial Hospital where he was evaluated and released.
A joint investigation by the Westport Fire and Police departments is ongoing however the chief said the likely cause of the fall was ice on the roof which caused the men to slip.
Water had been sprayed onto the roof “by a well-meaning tenant of the house in an attempt to extinguish the fire,” and that water may then have frozen.
The owner of the house has been identified as Michael O’Conner.
Tiverton was called to assist in fighting the blaze. The fire was extinguished quickly and damage was said to be limited primarily to the chimney area along with some smoke and water damage.