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I was about five feet into the house, kneeling in the doorway between the enclosed porch and the living room, seeing a wall of dark gray smoke and feeling pieces of ceiling fall on me. That's when the room on the other side of the doorway flashed over. Suddenly I saw really well, although all I saw was a solid wall of flames.

I'd somehow gotten it into my mind that the room ahead was a small one, so I opened up the nozzle with the expectations that the flames would quickly be knocked down. Unknown to me, I was actually throwing my steam into an L shaped room that went all the way to the back of the house, and which was now engulfed in fire. I whipped the nozzle around, throwing a couple of hundreds of gallons of water a minute into the superheated atmosphere, and the fire laughed in my face.

"There's fire over to our left!" yelled the guy who was backing me up. Unknown to us, the fire over there had already burned through the wall, so we were seeing flames in the next room. But since the fire two inches from my face was going nowhere, I had troubles of my own.

After a minute or so -- it seemed a lot longer -- the steam conversion worked, and the fire died down. But there was an instant before that -- and this has never happened to me in my 29 years of firefighting -- where I thought to myself:

"What the hell am I doing here?"

By the time my air tank ran low we'd knocked down the fire visible from our position. I crawled out, dumped my air pack, looked up to see how we were doing, and saw flames roaring out of the roof right over where we'd been working. That's when the IC and I pulled everybody out.

I played Safety Officer for the rest of the fire. By the way, propane tanks are still trying to kill me -- later that morning I found a charred tank that someone had carried out of the same doorway and left outside.

How was your weekend?

The article:
A home north of Albion on Steinbarger Lake was destroyed by fire Friday morning.

No one was injured in the blaze, which broke out at 9288 N Steinbarger Lake Road just before 8 a.m. The one story wood frame home was a total loss, according to the Orange Township Fire Department.

The southwest corner of the building was engulfed in flames when fire trucks arrived, and the blaze quickly spread through the rest of the home. Firefighters attempted to cut a hole in the roof to vent superheated gasses and improve visibility, but a second roof had been built over the original one, making venting difficult and allowing flames to spread in the concealed space between the roofs. Firefighters trying to knock down the fire from inside were driven out when the roof began caving in, and the floor near the middle of the home also collapsed into the basement.

Firefighters later removed a charred propane tank, along with weapons and ammunition, from the still smoldering home, in addition to having to protect a larger propane tank placed nearby.

The cause of the blaze remains under investigation, and the State Fire Marshal's Office was called in to assist. As a result of that investigation and the job of stamping out the last of the fire's smoldering remnants, some Orange Township units remained at the scene until after 9 p.m. that night. During the incident Johnson Township firefighters assisted with a medical assist call nearby, while at 4 p.m. some Orange Township units had to break away to assist at a personal injury accident on Kelly Street in Rome City.

These were many of the same firefighters who were called out at 10:38 p.m. the previous night to a reported house fire on Northport Road. That turned out to be a controlled burn of a previously fire damaged house, which had not been reported to authorities.

Assisting Orange Township firefighters were a fire engine and water tanker responded from Albion, along with other trucks and manpower from the Johnson Township, Ligonier, and Kendallville Fire Departments. Fire crews from Churubusco, Noble Township, and Topeka were brought up on standby.

A Noble County EMS crew stood by on the scene as a precaution, while REMC linemen were brought in to cut power to the residence.


( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 9th, 2009 09:56 am (UTC)
Fire is such a dangerous thing, thank goodness you're safe.
Nov. 9th, 2009 11:00 am (UTC)
Me, safe? No problem -- there was a safety officer on the scene! ;-)
Nov. 9th, 2009 12:01 pm (UTC)
I'd say my weekend was a lot less exciting than yours. I wouldn't call yours the good kind of excitement, though.... So glad you're safe!
Nov. 10th, 2009 06:31 am (UTC)
It's nice to have a story I don't have to embellish to make interesting!
Nov. 9th, 2009 12:08 pm (UTC)
I thank God you are all right. I hadn't realized how attached I am to you until I read this! It's so real! Firemen are all heroes in my book.

Hat's off to you, Mark.
Nov. 10th, 2009 06:32 am (UTC)
I'd take my hat off in return, but my hair would catch fire! ;-) Thanks.
Nov. 9th, 2009 12:49 pm (UTC)
I'd never be able to do that...I've believed since very little that I was going to die in a fire and can only now sorta stand campfires. Candles are about as much fire as I can cope with!
Glad youre okay
Nov. 10th, 2009 06:39 am (UTC)
Well, I can certainly see how having that belief would keep you out of this vocation ...

As for me, I've never had any premonitions, but I've always assumed I'll die doing something really stupid.
Nov. 9th, 2009 02:20 pm (UTC)
This confession makes me stupid, but here goes. Before 9/11, I don't think I ever realized how courageous firefighters and other first responders are. I just hadn't ever thought about it. The most I had seen of firefighters was the local 4th of July parade.

My Daughters boyfriend is now in Firefighter Academy. He loves it. The stories he tells of the physical hardships of training, discipline etc are amazing to me.

You have a dangerous job. I'm really glad you are safe. Be careful out there.
Nov. 10th, 2009 06:44 am (UTC)
Don't worry, we have a safety officer to watch over us. Oh, wait ... that's me. :-) Sometimes I get too busy to do that job, early on, as in this case when I was on the first truck out.

I'd imagine you're not along in not realizing what the job is all about; most people never do really think about it, even today. Certainly most firefighters (or police officers) don't spent a lot of time thinking about the danger or questions of courage, which is why I was a bit taken aback when it happened to me during the fire. I've always said that true courage is knowing how dangerous an important job is, but doing it anyway: Very few firefighters really have an awareness of how dangerous what they're doing is, at least not at the time.

Good luck to your daughter's boyfriend!
Nov. 9th, 2009 02:54 pm (UTC)
Oh, man. That sounds all too scary.
Nov. 10th, 2009 06:44 am (UTC)
Most of us don't really think about it being scary, at the time -- although sometimes we have a few bad moments after the danger is over!
Nov. 9th, 2009 03:02 pm (UTC)
Yikes!!!! 8[
Nov. 10th, 2009 06:45 am (UTC)
Everyone has an attention grabbing moment, from time to time!
Nov. 9th, 2009 03:20 pm (UTC)
So glad you are OK!!! Scary! Thank you for being a hero, but please continue to take care of yourself, OK??? ::hug::
Nov. 10th, 2009 06:47 am (UTC)
Oh, don't worry, I'm not into the heroics thing: Just do what needs to be done, as quickly and safely as possible, then get out of the hazard zone. *hugs back*
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 10th, 2009 06:48 am (UTC)
I'm not going anywhere until I get a chance to see 11!
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 11th, 2009 06:14 am (UTC)
Nov. 9th, 2009 05:32 pm (UTC)
OMG I'm glad you got out of that one OK!!
Nov. 10th, 2009 06:48 am (UTC)
Oh, I've been in way more dangerous situations than that!

Which wasn't very reassuring, was it?
Nov. 9th, 2009 06:45 pm (UTC)
Meep! Glad you got out unsinged!
Nov. 10th, 2009 06:49 am (UTC)
Thank you, NASA, for space age protective clothing!
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )

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