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Man rescued from View Towers fire recovering from severe burns

The man pulled off a 10th-storey balcony while his apartment in the View Towers burned is recovering in hospital after major skin-grafting surgery.
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Firefighters rescue a resident of View Towers in downtown Victoria from his smoke-filled apartment on April 29, 2022. CHEK NEWS

The man pulled off a 10th-storey balcony while his apartment in the View Towers burned is recovering in hospital after major skin-grafting surgery.

Robert Greene, 51, a resident of View Towers for 15 years, suffered third-degree burns on both hands in the April 29 fire. The fire also burned the hair off his head and damaged skin on his lips, nose and chest, Greene’s younger brother, Shane, told the Times Colonist on Sunday.

“It’s heart-wrenching when you see him lying in that bed,” Shane Greene said. “The burns were really bad and he’s been in a lot of pain.”

Robert Greene hasn’t been able to communicate with his mother, who lives in Victoria, or his father, from the Kootenays, because he’s been on a respirator since being rushed to hospital after his rescue, suffering from smoke inhalation and thick soot in his lungs.

Shane Greene said doctors were able to take skin from his brother’s hip and graft it into his hands. He didn’t know how long it would take to heal.

It’s not clear whether Robert Green will be able to move back into the View Towers complex, but his brother said he has an assigned social worker who is working on organizing some housing options.

The dramatic rescue on the morning of April 29 saw dozens of Victoria firefighters and police descend on the 19-storey tower at View and Quadra streets downtown to battle the blaze, which was contained to Greene’s apartment, and evacuate the 350 apartments

Heavy smoke was pouring out of the suite as a ladder truck with a bucket was manoeuvred to the 10th-floor balcony.

Video of the rescue shows a firefighter stepping over the balcony railing to get Greene, then help him climb onto the railing and into a bucket. Greene, covered in black soot, collapsed into a waiting firefighter’s arms as thick black smoke poured out of the apartment.

The blaze has been deemed accidental, with no cause given by the fire department. Nine other suites were affected by the water used to put out the fire, but damage was minimal, officials said. Ten displaced residents were allowed to return within two days.

Shane Greene said his brother was “lucky” and he appreciates the efforts of firefighters and paramedics. “And I have to say hats off to the hospital staff for all their phenomenal work … my brother’s in a good place.”

Shane Greene said the family plans to launch a fundraising page this week to help raise funds for his brother’s recovery.

dkloster@times-colonist.com