Colleagues of a Jefferson Parish firefighter who was badly burned while responding to a blaze at an Old Metairie condominium complex over the weekend are optimistic that he will fully regain the ability to see and speak.
Daniel Zeigler, who suffered extensive burns after falling through the roof of a burning building Saturday evening, can move his extremities and can respond to questions by writing notes on a pad and pencil. But his eyes are still too swollen for him to see fully, said the chief of his fire department, Dave Tibbetts.
Zeigler also has been on a ventilator that has prevented him from talking, said Tibbetts, who leads the East Bank Consolidated Fire Protection District.
But Tibbetts said he is hopeful Zeigler will soon be removed from the ventilator, and there is reason to believe he will be able to fully see again as the swelling around his eyes subsides.
“He’s in the best place he can be as far as the care he’s getting,” Tibbetts said, referring to Zeigler’s treatment at University Medical Center’s state-of-the-art burn center.
Tibbetts didn’t say when the wounded firefighter may be released from the hospital.
Zeigler was among those fighting a three-alarm fire in the back of the DeLimon Place condos, in the 500 block of Rue St. Peter. His job was to cut a hole in the roof of the building to relieve interior smoke and heat, making it possible for his colleagues to fight the fire there.
But Zeigler fell through the roof and an attic before landing on the floor of a third-floor apartment, Tibbetts said. His fellow firefighters rescued him, but he suffered second- and third-degree burns to his face, hands and back.
Paramedics treated Zeigler on the scene and then took him to the hospital, where he has been listed in critical but stable condition, Tibbetts said. Firefighters brought the blaze under control a little more than two hours after it started.
The agency “did a great job rescuing an injured firefighter and continuing their mission to extinguish the fire and protecting the rest of the (condo) units,” Tibbetts said.
Tibbetts asked members of the public to consider donating money to a GoFundMe account set up to help Zeigler’s family cover his medical costs.
Zeigler’s brother spoke with WDSU-TV on Monday, saying Daniel had worked as a firefighter in Detroit before joining the East Bank Consolidated Fire District.
“In his career, he is one that helps everyone,” Rick Schoder said. “It has shown that’s just the type of person he is, a great person (who) has a big heart.”