Firefighter thrown 20 feet during gas explosion

Peter St. John ended up with a broken leg

Portland Fire & Rescue firefighter Peter St. John is recuperating after being injured in a gas explosion in Northwest Portland, October 20, 2016 (KOIN)
Portland Fire & Rescue firefighter Peter St. John is recuperating after being injured in a gas explosion in Northwest Portland, October 20, 2016 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A firefighter was thrown 20 feet during a gas explosion in Portland on Wednesday.

Peter St. John was rendered unconscious by the blast, and he was in the middle of the road on Glisan Street when the explosion took place.

“I must have blacked out after the initial blast because the next thing I know, I’m on the ground in pain,” he said.

A gas explosion took place at NW 23rd and Glisan in Portland on Wednesday morning. October 19, 2016, (KOIN)
A gas explosion took place at NW 23rd and Glisan in Portland on Wednesday morning. October 19, 2016, (KOIN)

The firefighter ended up with a broken leg. St. John said he was able to wiggle his toes and move his left leg, but at that point he knew his right leg was broken.

Being so close, St. John said he witnessed the entire incident.

“I knew where I was and started freaking out a little bit more because I heard another explosion. Then I looked down and saw power lines down pretty close to us too,” he said.

St. John described the scene as “crazy”, but said he didn’t feel like he was a hero.

Injured firefighters Bret Kimple (left), Peter St. John (center) and Erik Kent (right). (Portland Fire & Rescue)
Injured firefighters Bret Kimple (left), Peter St. John (center) and Erik Kent (right). (Portland Fire & Rescue)

“I feel like I am not a hero. I just did what everyone else would’ve done. Our job is to go in  and protect citizens and make sure everyone else is safe,” he said.

St. John hopes to be out of the hospital by next week, but he said he may have to undergo another surgery for a bone graft if his leg doesn’t heal properly.