A cloud of black smoke was visible all across town by the time we were paged out. I saw it from my home five blocks away, as I ran out the door. It got the adrenalin going.
There was a Town Council meeting scheduled for 6 p.m., but one of the Council member's homes was 20 feet from the fire, and two of the other members were battling the blaze. The meeting was canceled.
Look carefully at the blue home, and you'll see the warped siding from the extreme radiant heat.
This propane tank was venting flames at the back of the home. I had another firefighter lay a whole bunch of water down on it until the flame went out, then grabbed it and hauled it away. It had nothing to do with courage -- the longer it was in contact with the fire, the more chance there was that we'd blow up. I didn't want to blow up. If I'd realized the relief valve had melted completely, and the flow couldn't be turned off, I might have just left the darn thing there and withdrawn the troops.
I didn't get a picture of the natural gas leak, because I was on the other side of the building and didn't know it was going on until it had been controlled.
This electric wire burned through early, producing a nice little light show. But we're used to that happening, and made sure no one was under it.
It was a cool day, which doesn't help much when you're wearing 30 or 40 pounds of protective equipment that covers ever inch of you. But heat exhaustion beats burns -- I know. This is the firefighter who helped me stretch the first line, and covered me while I retrieved the propane tank, being checked by a paramedic. The lady behind them is a photographer for a Fort Wayne newspaper. Her name, for those who read my fanfiction, is Kara.
Once we finally got water onto the fire structure, we knocked the flames down relatively quickly. But there was no saving the house, which was gutted before we even left the station. Why there was such a delayed discovery of the fire is still a mystery, but once it broke out dispatch got dozens of calls.
It was too late to do traditional roof ventilation on this fire -- it vented itself. But there was a double roof up there -- one built over another, instead of the old one being taken off -- so crews had to open the top roof up in order to reach and extinguish smoldering embers between the two.
Notice in this picture the firefighters working directly below the roof crew. Communications between the two is vital for their safety.
In most fires we are able to salvage at least some belongings, and usually the structure itself; this time there was almost nothing left. This view is of the kitchen.
A hoseline is directed toward the basement, where a few items were salvageable. The nozzle is being manned by Brad Jacob, a third generation firefighter: His grandfather was a former chief, his father is a 35 year veteran, Fire Prevention Officer, and former Assistant Chief, his brother is a captain, while he and his other brother are firefighters. Their uncle-in-law was also chief for several years. Yes, it does get into the blood.
Staging, where firefighters go to rest, then rotate back into the fire, was set up by Albion's rescue truck, a block away. The building beside it is the century old Old Jail Museum, run by the Noble County Historical Society that I did a presentation for a few weeks ago.
The truck we rode in on, specifically Pump 93. The operator, standing on top of the truck, is Mitch Fiandt, a member of Albion's Town Council, as I am. He's also the 911 Coordinator, in charge of the Noble County Sheriff's Department emergency communications department -- in other words, my boss. The man walking toward the camera is Bob Beckley, former Chief of the Albion Fire Department and now a member of the neighboring Avilla Fire Department. Nothing wrong with the camera -- we had to spot the truck downwind of the fire, so you're seeing smoke.
*whew* That was exhausting. Questions? Comments?