Firefighters mourn colleague killed in warehouse blaze: 'A very sad day'

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - The Chicago firefighter family is mourning the loss of one of its own.

Daniel Capuano fell down an elevator shaft while battling a fire on the far South Side early Monday morning.

And now, there are questions about the permits used for the rehab work inside the building that caught fire. The elevator shaft should have had fencing or barriers around it to prevent falls from happening.

On Monday morning, there was an agonizing 12 mile procession from the hospital to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office. Firefighters from Chicago, Evergreen Park and Oak Lawn lined the streets, standing in silence and waiting for Capuano’s body to arrive.

It was just hours earlier that the 15 year veteran of the Chicago Fire Department was on the scene of a vacant three story warehouse fire in the 9200 block of South Baltimore. Capuano and his fellow firefighters from Tower Ladder 34 were on the second floor, searching through thick smoke.

"As the firefighters went in there, they saw some holes throughout the floor. They gave out an emergency alert, be careful," said Chicago Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago.

Just moments after the alert, a mayday call was sent, signaling a firefighter in distress.  

"It looks like the firefighter, Daniel, just walked into the elevator shaft as he was searching. He couldn't see and fell," Santiago said.

From the second floor to the basement, it didn't take fellow firefighters long to locate Capuano.
 
"They found another entrance to the basement, and they were able to remove him quickly. Got down there and were able to get to him quickly," Santiago added.

Before Capuano was loaded into the ambulance, firefighters and paramedics worked frantically to revive him. Capuano was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where he was pronounced dead at 4:25 a.m.

In addition to Chicago, Capuano also worked as a firefighter for the town of Evergreen Park, many of whom were present as the ambulance carrying his body passed under two ladder trucks and an American flag. 

"Very hard on the department. You know how close we are in the fire department. We will make our way through it."

"He has three children and a very young wife. Young people. This is devastating to the family."

"We hope you will keep the Capuano family in your prayers and the department members who worked with him."

The fire in under investigation.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel reacted to the death of Capuano and issued a statement that said 'in part,' "Chicago has lost one of its bravest,"

Capuano is the second firefighter from Ladder 34 to lose his life in the past 5 years. On December 22, 2010, 32-year-old Corey Ankum was killed after the roof of an abandoned building collapsed. Edward Stringer, 47, of Engine Company 63 was also killed. 

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