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Badly Burned Fresno Firefighter Pete Dern 'Smiling' After Latest Surgery

Pete Dern, the Fresno, California, firefighter who fell through a roof into a burning building, is "smiling" after the latest of several surgeries.
/ Source: NBC News

A firefighter who suffered serious burns to most of his body after falling through a roof into a burning building is recovering and "smiling" after the latest of several surgeries, according to colleagues.

Dramatic video filmed on a neighbor's cellphone showed the moment when Capt. Pete Dern fell through the roof of a garage in Fresno, California, on March 29. He was rescued several minutes later but suffered second and third degree burns to 65 percent of his body.

"He appreciates the support from everyone," his union, the Fresno City Firefighters Local 753, said in a statement on Wednesday following his latest surgery.

Dern's latest operation involved a treatment called negative pressure wound therapy, which uses a vacuum to draw fluid out of the wounds.

"His recovery from surgery was uneventful and he was smiling this morning when visiting with the nurses," the union's statement added. "His room is filled with cards, banners, and T-shirts signed by firefighters, students, and other first responders from around the nation supporting him in his recovery."

Days after the event, doctors said Dern would be hospitalized for "a long time."

- Alexander Smith