Firefighter struck by bullet after heat from blaze causes gun to discharge, officials say

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Posted at 11:57 AM, Feb 26, 2021

RUSK COUNTY, Wis. – A fire department in Wisconsin says one of its firefighters was struck by a bullet when the heat from a blaze caused a loaded firearm to discharge.

The Cornell Area Fire Department says 35-year-old Justin Fredrickson was among its crew that responded to a working structure fire in the Township of Willard in Rusk County on last week.

As the 16-year veteran of the department was operating a hose line outside the structure, officials say the firearm inside the building discharged. A bullet then traveled through an exterior wall and struck Fredrickson in the abdomen, WCCO reports.

“The loaded firearm discharged due to heat conditions caused by the fire, not by the intentional actions of a person,” wrote the department in a Facebook post.

First responders began treating the injured firefighter immediately and he was transported to an area hospital before being airlifted to a hospital in Eau Claire, where he has undergone multiple surgeries.

In an update on Thursday, the fire department said Fredrickson was in the intensive care unit, resting comfortably after a third surgery, which they called a success.

“Justin is in good spirits and on the road to recovery,” wrote the department’s assistant chief, Matt Boulding. “The family would like to thank everyone for the continued thoughts, prayers, and kind words.”