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Firefighter who worked for a month at Surfside collapse site is suffering and needs help, attorney says

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue veteran stabbed himself after domestic violence arrest

Crews work in the rubble of the demolished section of the Champlain Towers South building, as removal and recovery work continues at the site of the partially collapsed condo building, Monday, July 12, 2021, in Surfside, Fla.(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
Crews work in the rubble of the demolished section of the Champlain Towers South building, as removal and recovery work continues at the site of the partially collapsed condo building, Monday, July 12, 2021, in Surfside, Fla.(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – A 47-year-old veteran firefighter who worked at the site of the Surfside building collapse that killed 98 people is suffering and needs help, his attorney said late Friday night.

Fernando Castano has been with Miami-Dade Fire Rescue for nearly 21 years after working for Hialeah Fire Rescue for seven years. He camped in the perimeter of the Champlain Towers South pile from June 24 to July 23.

Castano remained hospitalized early Saturday morning, after he stabbed himself in the chest Friday evening during his meeting with police officers to surrender his weapons in compliance with a court order, according to his attorney. The order stemmed from a domestic violence case filed on Wednesday in Miami-Dade court.

While some firefighters experienced warm welcomes with family and friends, the married father returned to an empty home in south Miami-Dade. His wife had moved out with his kids. She told police officers he wanted to meet them at a restaurant, but she refused, according to the arrest report.

When he met with her on Tuesday, she told him all she wanted was a divorce, police said. Castano pointed a gun at her in front of their kids and said, “If you want to end things, I should end it right now,” according to the report. He pushed her and shouted suicidal and homicidal threats, police said.

Fernando Castano was arrested Tuesday after being accused of pointing a gun at his wife and making homicidal and suicidal threats.

Attorney Michael Catalano is representing Castano who is facing a felony charge of aggravated assault with a firearm. He is also facing a battery charge and three misdemeanor charges of battery.

“After all the dead bodies, the smell, he just got overwhelmed by what he was doing the whole time at Surfside ... it was horrendous. The smell, the body parts, it was just disgusting. He lost control of himself,” the attorney said Wednesday during a virtual hearing.

His bond was set at $10,000 and he was released from jail on Thursday afternoon. Records show the judge ordered Castano to stay away from his wife and three others, wear an electronic monitor, and remain on house arrest. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue placed him on administrative duty pending further review of the case.

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About the Authors:

Christian De La Rosa joined Local 10 News in April 2017 after spending time as a reporter and anchor in Atlanta, San Diego, Orlando and Panama City Beach.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.