A Mississauga firefighter, whose body was shattered in an explosion at a warehouse fire last year, has miraculously recovered and returned to work.
The massive industrial fire broke out around 4:30 a.m. on April 23, 2014, at an imported goods plant on Thamesgate Drive near Airport Road.
Several firefighters, including Tim Casarin, 47, entered what they believed to be an empty building.
“Our crew actually entered the building. There was a lot of smoke, heavy smoke,” he recalled, during an exclusive CityNews interview. “We did not have any information on what was inside the building.”
The building actually contained several butane canisters, which triggered an explosion that caused a wall to collapse.
Casarin and two other firefighters were injured in the blast.
“I was crushed by about four to five feet of cinder blocks,” he said.
Casarin was pulled from the fire without vital signs and rushed to a Toronto hospital. He had broken 41 bones, including his neck and pelvis, suffered damage to his internal organs and had a collapsed lung.
“How bad I was injured and how close I came to dying and to be sitting here feeling like I am. I do feel like I’m the luckiest guy on the planet,” he said.
Casarin was placed in a medically induced coma and over the next month underwent several extensive surgeries to try to repair the damage, including facial reconstructive surgery on his eye socket.
He was then transferred to West Park Healthcare Centre where he began a month of intensive rehabilitation.
Casarin said that with help of the staff as well as the support and love of his family, he was able to push through some of the harder times. He even got words of encouragement from hockey commentator Don Cherry.
“They got me through this, the compassion, the care, the professionalism,” he said.”I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for my family, guys at the job…I felt like I wasn’t doing it just for myself …so many other people.”
And just nine months after the accident, the 11-year veteran is back on the job. Although he is working behind a desk now, he hopes to get back out on the front lines by spring.
“It’s going to be amazing and a little scary. Those first few alarms will be tense but I know the guys will have my back…I’m pretty lucky.”