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How I spent my Saturday night

And why all my muscles were aching on Sunday:

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Image hosted by Photobucket.com

For explanation, the article I wrote for the Albion paper:

A Saturday night fire destroyed a landmark home west of Albion.
The large, two story house, known as the Stonewall Farm, caught fire at about 6:15 p.m., and was gutted despite the efforts of several area fire departments. Members of the Don Wolfe family, who rented the residence, were reportedly home at the time the fire broke out, but were able to escape without injury. The property, at Albion Road and CR 290W, is owned by Dr. William Fitzkee of Albion.
The fire is believed to have started on the second floor, and apparently burned for some time before it was discovered. The cause wasn’t immediately certain, but was believed to be accidental.
One firefighter was hurt when he fell during the operation; he was treated at Parkview Noble Hospital in Kendallville, and later released.
The fire was reported at 6:16 p.m. At the time Christine Wolfe and her son were reportedly in the home, and discovered the upstairs engulfed in flames as they made their escape. By the time nearby police officers arrived, the flames had burned through the wooden structure’s roof, and shortly after Albion firefighters began attacking the blaze parts of the second floor collapsed into the first floor.
The building was of balloon frame construction, a no longer used construction method that allowed flames to spread easily through concealed spaces and attack the structural supports. That made conditions too dangerous for firefighters to enter most of the residence, although they were able to retrieve some personal property.
They were also able to protect four vehicles, a motorcycle and three cars, parked inside an attached garage. Firefighters pushed the motorcycle outside, and Duane Leatherman brought a wrecker out to remove the cars.
With the building badly weakened, and a great deal of smoldering fire that firefighters couldn’t safely reach, heavy equipment was called in to tear down the remaining structure. Jack Owen of Owen’s Excavating brought equipment in to do that job, and the pile of debris that remained was allowed to burn overnight.
Firefighters were hampered by low temperatures, slippery conditions and falling snow, and had to bring in Noble County Highway personnel to apply sand to icy roadways. They also had to use caution in approaching the house because of live electric lines that were threatening to burn through; the power was shut off by Noble REMC linemen.
Several requests were made for manpower, water tankers and other equipment from neighboring communities, bringing units from departments including Avilla, Cromwell, Johnson Township, Kendallville, Ligonier, Noble Township, Orange Township, and Topeka. Several other fire departments were involved in providing standby coverage to Noble County. Two dozen Albion firefighters responded, manning five trucks, and remained on the scene for about six and a half hours.

All in all, not a fun night.



( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 12th, 2005 05:04 am (UTC)
Fire in the snow! Looks like it was an interesting old building. I hope that is all the excitement for you now for a while.
Dec. 12th, 2005 02:54 pm (UTC)
when interesting is bad
It was an interesting building, but those are the ones that give us the most trouble when they burn -- especially the very old ones, like this one. Add-ons, roofs built over roofs, all sorts of concealed spaces; it's hard to even find the fire, sometimes.
There were several major fires around the region over the weekend, most of them probably weather related, but that's the only one we were called to. At least we had nothing like that huge fuel depot fire in England -- I could do without that kind of excitement.
Dec. 12th, 2005 07:47 am (UTC)
oh no! that's too bad. :(
Dec. 12th, 2005 02:56 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it's not only bad to lose a house, but that one was something of a local landmark. I'll bet 20 years from now, 911 dispatchers will still be getting calls from old timers saying "the accident's right down from where the Stonewall Farm was ..."
Dec. 12th, 2005 07:17 pm (UTC)
That's a shame. I'm glad you're ok. (I've been told that fire in winter is the worst because of the snow and ice - is that true?)
Dec. 13th, 2005 03:12 am (UTC)
winter sucks no matter what you're doing
Absolutely, fighting fire in winter is the worst. I'm willing to fight for the nozzle, because i want to be the guy inside, as close to the flames as possible. Not on the slippery roof, not running the pump in the wind and the sleet -- *inside*. The closest I came to getting injured Saturday night was when we couldn't see the low wall of stones that lined the property (because of snow) and kept slipping on them as we headed toward the house! Plus, I got badly frostbitten as a kid, so I can't expose my hands, ears or face for very long without hurting, so all in all I'd rather be inside. Add to that our water hoses freezing, the pavement and lawn becoming icy from overspray, hypothermia ...
Not that fighting a fire during a heat wave is any kind of a treat. I'll take a nice, calm, 62 degrees, thank you. :-)
Dec. 12th, 2005 11:43 pm (UTC)
THat's horrible!!!!!! :( I loved that farm, gorgeous and always made me think "ooooo, I want!"

Glad that the family got out ok.

Dec. 13th, 2005 03:17 am (UTC)
I always thought it was a great looking place, too, and in a good location -- close to town and on a main road, but still in a rural area where there's some privacy.
They got out okay, but it was apparently burning in the upstairs for some time before they realized it; and they didn't have a phone, so there was both a delayed discovery and a delayed response. Pretty much explains why it was so far out of hand by the time we got there.
Dec. 13th, 2005 03:20 am (UTC)
awwwwwwww :( it's hard to imagine that people in our area still are without phone. :( Hence why I'm SUCH a huge supporter of those "recycle your cell phone" programs that try to give the needy and amish cell phonse to at least use to call 911 :(
Dec. 14th, 2005 02:01 am (UTC)
yeah, that's a great idea -- give 'em your cell phone!
I'm not a huge fan of people who give up their home phones completely, and start using cell phones instead. Not only is the reception usually worse, but Enhanced 911 doesn't work -- we can't pinpoint where they're calling from if the call is cut off, or they can't talk.
Dec. 14th, 2005 02:38 am (UTC)
really? :( I never knew.
Dec. 14th, 2005 03:11 am (UTC)
No one does. No one ever thinks about that stuff until they need it!
Dec. 16th, 2005 12:45 am (UTC)
true true. Silly people. >: (
Dec. 13th, 2005 08:52 am (UTC)
I always think house fires are so sad, even if everyone gets out OK.

Whereas the fuel depot fire in Hemel Hemstead is merely interesting - especially as so few people were injured - I have been following the smoke pall by seeing which of my LJ friends is now under it! The fire is in bogwitch 's home town, and her pictures of it were immediately below these of your on my FL - which is a bit weird!
Dec. 14th, 2005 01:55 am (UTC)
I like fighting grass fires; they're not usually too bad in this area, and rarely cause any property damage -- but we still get to fight fires. Anything else means someone, somewhere, losing something -- home, job, transportation, belongings ...
Anyway, Bogwitch definitely outstaged me -- my fire made the local newspapers, hers made CNN. We have a saying around here: "You're having a bad day when you turn on CNN and see your house".
Dec. 16th, 2005 04:01 am (UTC)
My, oh my! It's so sad when landmark buildings go down. My best wishes to the family who owned the house. I also hope your fellow firefighter wasn't injured too badly. Good on you and the rest of the team for doing this important work.
Dec. 16th, 2005 11:05 pm (UTC)
No, he just got a little banged up when he fell on the ice. The family, it turns out, had renter's insurance, and the owner is filthy rich and didn't really seem to care about anything but his cars in the garage. Not exactly a happy ending, but it could have been worse.
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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