A Cornell firefighter is in critical condition after he was shot in a freak accident during a structure fire in the town of Willard, Rusk County, on Friday, Feb. 19.

Cornell Fire Department had responded to assist Sheldon Fire Department for a structure fire. Cornell provided manpower and two water tankers.

Cornell firefighter Justin Fredrickson, 35 years old and a 16-year veteran of the department, was working a hose line outside of the structure. A loaded firearm inside the burning structure was set off by the heat, sending a bullet through an exterior wall. The bullet then struck Fredrickson in the abdomen. The gun was not fired due to the direct, intentional actions of a person.

Sheldon EMS gave aid to Fredrickson and he was transported to the hospital in Ladysmith. He was later flown to Mayo Hospital in Eau Claire where he underwent surgery.

As of the press release on Tuesday, Feb. 23, Fredrickson had undergone a second surgery and was scheduled for a third surgery. He is in critical condition.

“Please keep Justin’s fiancée, his family and the Cornell and Sheldon fire departments in your prayers. We will release updates as they become available,” said Cornell Fire Chief Dennis Klass on Feb. 23.

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