After two fire trucks collided in Monterey Park on Wednesday, sending one of them crashing into a restaurant, the firefighters climbed out and immediately set about rescuing injured civilians, officials said Thursday.
The fire chiefs for the Monterey Park and Alhambra fire departments, which each had three personnel involved in the crash, praised the firefighters for overcoming their own injuries to aid the nine civilians who were hurt, one of them critically.
One Monterey Park firefighter who was also seriously injured, and who remained hospitalized Thursday, helped rescue a restaurant customer who was pinned between the truck and wreckage inside.
"I tip my hat off to firefighters from both agencies," Monterey Park Fire Chief Jim Birrell told reporters at a news conference Thursday.
The crash, which is being investigated by a major accident team with the California Highway Patrol, happened shortly after 3 p.m. The Monterey Park fire engine and the Alhambra ladder truck were responding to the same emergency call, a house fire in a one-story home on the south end of the city. For reasons unknown, the vehicles collided, sending the fire engine careening into Lu Dumpling House.
Inside the restaurant, a waitress captured cellphone footage of the aftermath, showing a cluttered dining area, toppled chairs and tables.
"These folks were dealing with a lot yesterday, and it was chaotic on the scene," Birrell said.
The Monterey Park firefighter and one civilian who remained hospitalized Thursday were in stable condition, officials said.
[For the Record, 3:50 p.m. PDT April 17: A previous version of this post misspelled the last name of the Monterey Park fire chief as Burrell instead of Birrell.]