First responders reflect on Springfield firefighter ambush one year later

The five first responders from the Springfield firefighter ambush told KEZI 9 News that they're family.

Posted: Oct 17, 2019 6:42 PM
Updated: May 3, 2021 11:57 AM

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- One year ago, a man shot himself after setting a fire that destroyed several homes in Springfield, and today the first responders are looking back.

“We started getting ready to fight fire. As we were pulling up on scene, glass exploded through the cab and something hard hit me in the left chest," said Captain Craig Degarlais with Eugene Springfield Fire.

RELATED: POLICE IDENTIFY SUBJECT IN EARLY MORNING SHOOTING, FIRE

At first many of the firefighters thought the noises, shattering and force were all coming from the fire.

But as the seconds wore on, the true danger became clear -- they were being ambushed.

As the fire call turned into a firefight between a gunman and the first responders, they were forced to take cover, causing the fire to grow even larger.

MORE: EUGENE-SPRINGFIELD FIREFIGHTERS AWARDED FOR BRAVERY IN AMBUSH

They all went back to the station just a block away after all five of the firefighters were hit.

This is the windshield on the fire engine that was shot at that tragic morning. The department told KEZI 9 News they keep it in plain sight for everyone to see because it serves as a reminder that they can get through anything, even the events you cannot prepare for.

MORE: SHOOTER’S HOUSE ‘CONSTANT REMINDER’ OF SPRINGFIELD AMBUSH, RESIDENTS SAY

When asked if they do anything differently after this event took place, they said there’s not much more they can do.

“We try to have heads up, we are looking around trying to see all aspects of what’s going on, there’s nothing you can change when someone is hiding the shadows waiting for you and nobody knows,” Degarlais said.

READ MORE: POLICE HELP PUT OUT FIRE AFTER FIREFIGHTERS AMBUSHED IN SPRINGFIELD

For many of those first responders, the fact that their families couldn’t get in contact with them during the ambush was the scariest part.

Those five first responders that were on scene told KEZI they're family.

They said they've always had a close bond but after going through an event like that, it brought them even closer.

It's also been a chance to reflect on life and how precious every moment is.

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