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‘Everywhere I looked, I was burned’: Injured Dallas firefighter recounts apartment explosion, as he continues recovery at the hospital

Dallas firefighter Ronald Hall was severely injured at the Highland Hills Apartment Explosion on Sept. 29. He shares his story and updates on his recovery.

DALLAS — Update: Ronald Hall was discharged from Parkland hospital on Thursday, Oct. 21 and was taken to UT Southwestern for inpatient rehabilitation.

Three Dallas firefighters were severely injured by an apartment explosion in Southeast Dallas on Sept. 29. 

On Friday, Officer Pauline Perez was discharged from Parkland Memorial Hospital. But two others, Captain Christopher Gadomski and Driver Engineer Ronald Hall, remain hospitalized.

From his bed in the burn ICU, Hall shared his story and recollection of the day with WFAA.

He's been a fireman for 40 years, working for Dallas Fire-Rescue for 36 years. All those years taught him, there is no routine with his job. Sept. 29 was as unexpected as any other shift.

That Wednesday morning, he said Truck 25 at Station 25 took the call for a gas leak. 

"We caught the run. I think somebody else tried to jump the run, but we went ahead and stayed on the run," said Hall.

His crew with four firefighters arrived at Highland Hills Apartments and started searching for the source of the leak. 

"We went up there and saw it was leaking," he said. "I felt the explosion and I saw Pauline fly backwards, and Cap was beside me and I saw him fly behind me."

He described it as a tornado he couldn't see. When the explosion was over, he was surrounded and covered by rubble.

RELATED: Dallas firefighters hurt in apartment explosion identified, department says they are 'improving'

"Everywhere I looked, I was burned and my skin was coming off," said Hall. 

He said Captain Gadomski made the mayday call, and rescue units were sent dispatched to help.

Hall said he pushed the debris off his own charred body. With a broken leg and unrecognizably burned, he walked toward the street searching for help. 

"It was a terrible feeling to be asking for help, and people just looking at you and wouldn't come help you," he said. 

While Hall was in the ambulance, his wife, Mona, got the call she's avoided for the last 30 years. 

"The paramedic tells me, 'Mrs. Hall, there was an explosion,'" she said.

She drove eight hours to Dallas from New Mexico, where they plan to retire. DE Hall already had his paperwork filled out to retire in January, but now retirement may come sooner than expected with his injuries.

"I'll probably  just show up at the station to drive the firetruck one more run and retire," he said.

The recovery is far from over for all three firefighters. For Hall, he realizes he may never be back to his original health. He's been at the hospital for three weeks, with ups and downs in his recovery.

Last Monday, the three firefighters, in their hospital gowns, were able to go downstairs and get some fresh air, seeing each other for the first time since the explosion. 

After that visit, Hall took a turn for the worse and got an infection in his injured leg. On Friday, he was rolled into another surgery.

At the same time of his surgery, Officer Perez was rolled downstairs, where Truck 25 was waiting for her. She was discharged from the hospital, and continues her recovery at home.

Each of the firefighters are healing at their own pace, knowing some days are better than others.

A GoFundMe link has been created to help the three firefighters and their families. 

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