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Wife says man trapped in warehouse fire is healing

February 17, 2000|By DON AINES

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - Terry Metcalfe's road to recovery will be a long one, but the Mercersburg, Pa., man who was trapped in a burning warehouse last month may have reached a turning point this week.

"I told him I loved him and kissed him on the cheek and he puckered his lips," Metcalfe's wife, Tammy, said Thursday after a visit the day before to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore.

Metcalfe, 42, of 11760 Punch Bowl Road, was upgraded from critical to fair condition Thursday, according to a hospital spokeswoman. It has been more than three weeks since he was flown there after being rescued from a fire at Vision Warehousing and Distribution Inc., 255 N. Carlisle St., Greencastle, Pa.

Wednesday Metcalfe responded to questions by nodding or shaking his head, Tammy Metcalfe said. He is unable to talk because of a tracheotomy.

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"He was sitting on a chair and his eyes were open the whole time I was there," Tammy Metcalfe said. Her husband had been in a semi-conscious state since firefighters pulled him from the smoke-filled warehouse shortly before it collapsed.

The firefighters repeatedly went into the burning building to find him. "I'll be forever grateful to them," she said.

Terry Metcalfe was inside the warehouse for a hour before they found him lying at the bottom of a staircase.

Metcalfe was a member of a crew removing pipes from the warehouse with a cutting torch when the foam insulation on the walls caught fire. He was working for Metcalfe Scrap Service of Mercersburg, a company owned by his father, Merle Metcalfe, Tammy said.

Terry Metcalfe received serious burns to his hands and back that required skin grafts, his wife said. He also had burns to his face that did not require surgery.

"His face has healed tremendously," she said. "He looks like Terry again. I'm thankful to still have him. ... The doctor told me yesterday it's a miracle he survived."

While damage to his lungs does not appear to have been serious, she said there are still questions about the extent of brain damage he may have suffered from lack of oxygen during the fire.

That won't be known until he can talk again, she said.

Tammy Metcalfe said she has been making the trip to Baltimore at least three times a week, although she has to get rides from family and friends. They have three children: Shawn, 21, Shane, 17, and 8-year-old Shannon.

Terry Metcalfe has no medical insurance, but Tammy said the community has been supportive.

"Everybody has been great with their cards and prayers and donations," she said.

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