Injured firemen battle on

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Badly hurt Hamilton firefighter Merv Neil was showing slight signs of improvement seven weeks after the Icepak fire as he battled serious burns in Auckland’s Middlemore Hospital.

Injured fireman Merv Neil (left) being helped after the blast

Mr Neil, 43, was critically injured when the Ice Pack coolstore exploded on April 5 and on May 23 was still in a critical condition in the burns unit at Middlemore Hospital, reported NZPA.

“He is still in critical condition but there are signs of improvement,” said Hamilton’s assistant regional fire commander, Roy Breeze.

Only one of the eight firefighters injured in the blast which killed Red Watch commander, Senior Station Officer Derek Lovell, had returned to work, the May 23 report said.

Mr Breeze said the others were still recovering from their injuries and treatment which included “broken ribs, skin grafts and all sorts of things”.

“A lot of them are doing very well but some of them have still got a bit of a road to recovery to go yet.”

Mr Breeze said the firefighters all had a very positive attitude which was helping them in their recovery.

He said they were under no pressure to return to work and the gaps in the rosters were being filled from other watches or from firefighters from other parts of the country who had wanted to go to Hamilton.

Donations can be made to funds for the firemen and their families set up by the NZ Fire Service and also the NZ Professional Firefighters Union.

The union also has an online book of condolences, which is open for new entries and for reading the tributes that have been made from around the world.

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