Firefighter hurt battling blaze

By Anthony Antoine |

Published 11/16 2013 07:53PM

Updated 11/25 2013 01:26PM

Update: 10:04 pm, 11/23/13, Saturday
CHAMPAIGN -- A firefighter, hurt on the job, is home recovering. Lieutenant Jeff Lattz was burned while fighting a fire at Layalina Mediterranean Grill last weekend.

He was taken to a Springfield hospital burn unit. He was released earlier this week. Officials aren't sure when he'll return to work.
Original: 7:53 pm, 11/16/13, Saturday
CHAMPAIGN -- Fire crews were called to 40 East Springfield about 3 am Saturday. Lieutenant Jeff Lattz sustained burns while battling the blaze.

Officials at Memorial Medical Center, in Springfield, say he's in serious condition. Lt. Lattz was first taken to a local hospital, but was transferred to the burn unit in Springfield.

The tenant of the building which burned says he's just thankful to be alive. It started with the smell of smoke, but fire spread quickly at Layalina Mediterranean Grill, consuming the building.

Kevin Hughes lives on the second floor of the building.

“It’s pretty surreal. I been in this kind of situation before but never like this."

Hughes planned on enjoying his weekend with his son. When he got home, there wasn’t much left.

“I just got back on my feet. Got a new job moved. Everything. Replenished all of my furniture. All of my stuff and it's gone."

Fire Marshall John Koller says “This was a second alarm fire for us which brings off-duty firefighters back in. Mainly in the walls in this structure is where we had the bulk of our fire.”

Lt. Lattz was making sure the second floor was clear. The building was small and he was burned by pockets of flames. The veteran firefighter was seriously injured, but walked out of the building on his own.

Koller says, “He did sustain some burns and Springfield is our burn center for this area.”

Investigators say the building isn't safe, and instead of going inside crews are just tearing it down.

“Unfortunately, with the damage to the building behind us it was deemed by our command staff that it was not safe to go in to the structure by any of our personnel. This means our investigators as well.”

While firefighters are concerned with Lt. Lattz, Hughes is concerned about his dog. He somehow made it out the house and is still missing.

“He’s by himself. Everyone’s going to be a stranger to him. His name's Sebastian. Bubba-Boo-Bumber-2. That’s his nickname. I don’t care about anything else. I just want my dog."

Firefighters say the fire started in the restaurant. Lt. Lattz teaches at the Fire Services Institute at UI.

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