Newark firefighter injured on the job returns home

Posted: Updated:
WEST ORANGE -

A Newark firefighter who was badly injured in the line of duty this past December has returned home.

Paul Leber was released from the Kessler Institute rehabilitation facility in West Orange Thursday afternoon. He received an emotional homecoming from his fellow firefighters.

“To walk out and just to breathe the fresh air and see everybody here is truly amazing,” Leber said. “I didn’t think I was going to be here.”

Leber suffered burns and damaged to his windpipe while fighting a fire at a Newark tire shop on Park Avenue on Dec. 30. He became trapped while firefighters were evacuating.

“He was not breathing. He was on a ventilator,” said his mother Barbara Leber. “I didn’t know if he was going to make it…he’s come such a long way.”

Leber’s finance says that she always believed he would pull through.

“I knew he would be here. He’s a fighter,” Stephanie Puglia said.

Leber, who is a Navy veteran, spent more than a month at the hospital and then at the Kessler Institute recovering. He will continue his recovery from home.

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