One of the last firefighters in burning apartment building shares story

One of the last firefighters in burning apartment building shares story
(Source: WTOL)

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Three years ago, three men entered a burning apartment building in Toledo's North End, but only one made it out alive.

Three years later, Lt. George Simko does not know how he escaped the inferno inside. The two men who entered the building with Simko, Stephen Machcinski and Jamie Dickman, both perished.

Simko says in matter of seconds, conditions changed. At that moment, Simko says he saw a flash of daylight.

"I tapped Steve on the shoulder and said, 'We gotta get out and we're using the door,'" Lt. Simko testified at the trial against Ray Abou Arab.

Lt. Simko told the jury the temperatures started to rise in the second story room they had climbed into. Then, he heard radio traffic of a fire below them. Within seconds, everything changed.

"Before Jamie could open the line back up, before I could say anything, all the sudden it just went completely black," Lt. Simko said.

Simko described pulling the firehouse with him toward the door to create a guide for his fellow firefighters. But neither made it out.

Lt. Simko's testimony, along with the melted and charred gear of Machcinski and Dickman, made Thursday likely the most emotion day in an already emotional trial. As a result, the judge allowed extra breaks during the trial, so everyone had a chance to gather themselves.

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