OAKLAND (CBS SF) – A firefighter remained in serious but stable condition Thursday morning after a burning RV exploded while he was trying to put out the fire in Oakland on Wednesday afternoon, a fire spokeswoman said.

The firefighter responded to reports of a burning RV parked in a cul-de-sac at 4226 Redding St. at about 4:30 p.m., Oakland Fire Department Battalion Chief Melinda Drayton said.

Responding crews found the owner of the RV trying to put out an engine fire using a small extinguisher.

“That didn’t work,” Drayton said.

The flames quickly spread to a small panel on the passenger side of the RV, and the vehicle then exploded.

Debris flew off the RV and cut the firefighter, who was severely injured and was taken to a hospital, Drayton said.

The 36-year-old firefighter underwent five hours of surgery to repair damage to his mouth and face.

“He was admitted to the hospital’s intensive care unit at midnight and he is resting comfortably,” she said.

The majority of the firefighter’s wounds were above the neck, but he didn’t suffer brain injuries, Drayton said.

“He was incredibly fortunate,” she said.

The RV, which Drayton described as about the size of a small bread truck, was totaled in the explosion. Investigators still don’t know what caused the fire.

“It appears to be just a tragic accident,” Drayton said.

Many residents from nearby homes came out to help fight the blaze and give first aid to the injured firefighter.

“It was great to see people of the community helping us out,” Drayton said. “We’re normally the ones doing the rescuing.”

The firefighter has been with Oakland Fire Department since 2006, and he has been fighting fires since 2001, Drayton said.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)


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