GODFREY, Ill. — A firefighter badly injured in a fire that killed his captain returned to work in Godfrey Friday.
Luke Warner had been out of work for nearly a year recovering from his injuries, after part of a house collapsed during a fire last March.
“I had a broken neck, a broken ankle, a broken leg, and then I tore my ACL and meniscus in my knee,” he said.
Two other firefighters were also hurt. His captain, Jake Ringering, was killed.
"Jake was without a doubt the best one here,” he said. "He was the smartest. He was the most athletic. He was the most educated. He was the most experienced. If anything was going to happen, it wouldn't have been to Jake.”
Warner said his first emotion was disbelief. Since then, he's been relying on his faith.
"I've asked that question I don't know how many times in prayer, like why it happened, and why Jake and not me. Pick a scenario and I've asked the question. The answer's out there, I just have to go look for it,” he said.
He's continuing that search back at work, where the memory of Captain Ringering's sacrifice will go with him to every fire. Each fire department vehicle has a decal with his name on it.
Warner said he’s ready to back doing what he loves, but there are a few things he has to relearn.
"They were messing with me today because I was flipping the wrong light switches,” Warner said.
Next Thursday marks one year since the fire. The firefighters said anyone is welcome that day or any day to come say hello.
OSHA investigated the response to the fire. Investigators found that 911 operators failed to notify first responders that all people in the house safely escaped.
They also failed to tell first responders that the home was a "hoarder house" — information that would have changed the way firefighters attacked the fire.
Warner served in the U.S. Navy and graduated from Lewis and Clark Community College’s fire science program in 2011, according to a news release from the school.
He has been with the Godfrey Protection District since 2003.
- OSHA report: 911 operators failed to tell first responders that everyone was out of house in fire that killed Capt. Ringering
- Godfrey park renamed for fallen fire captain Jake Ringering
- Governor Pritzker orders all flags at half-staff to honor fallen firefighter
- ‘Jake was gold, people wanted to be like Jake’ | Godfrey Fire Chief emotional as he talks about firefighter killed in line of duty