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San Jose Firefighter Makes Progress Following Heart Attack

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A firefighter was injured during a fire at St. Patrick Proto-Cathedral Parish in San Jose on August 30, 2012. (Breena Kerr)

A firefighter was injured during a fire at St. Patrick Proto-Cathedral Parish in San Jose on August 30, 2012. (Breena Kerr)

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SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — A veteran firefighter who has been in critical condition since he suffered a heart attack at the scene of a church fire in downtown San Jose on Thursday has regained consciousness.

Frank Ryan, 41, who has been in Regional Medical Center of San Jose’s intensive care unit since Thursday, was visiting with family and friends early Tuesday afternoon, San Jose fire Capt. Mary Gutierrez said.

Since Ryan was hospitalized, firefighters have kept vigil in the ICU waiting room for their colleague.

He has been in critical but stable condition, but as of Monday, doctors were pleased with his progress, Gutierrez said.

KCBS’ Mike Colgan Reports:

Ryan collapsed after suffering cardiac arrest a few minutes before noon on Thursday, just as fire crews were getting control of the three-alarm fire at St. Patrick Proto-Cathedral Parish at 389 E. Santa Clara St.

According to Gutierrez, firefighters faced “blackout” conditions inside the church, where there was so much smoke that it was difficult to see.

About 40 firefighters, police officers and community members gathered for a late-afternoon prayer vigil for Ryan on Sunday in the hospital parking lot.

Gutierrez said that since Ryan was hospitalized, at least 20 firefighters have occupied the ICU waiting room at any given time, waiting for him to wake up. A handful of off-duty firefighters have even been spending the night there on cots.

“We have firefighters there around the clock, we want to be there in case there is any significant change,” Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez also said money donated by fellow firefighters and their families has paid for Ryan’s family members, who live outside the Bay Area, to travel to San Jose. About was $1,300 collected in a Styrofoam cup in the hours after Ryan was hospitalized.

The donations have paid the travel costs for Ryan’s three sisters and two brothers. Ryan is not married and does not have children, Gutierrez said.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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