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it got kind of interesting

See, here's the thing: I really don't get into dangerous situations very often at all. After my post of the house fire from back in the spring, I may have given people the wrong impression that I'm always jumping into some "Backdraft" style of high adventure, but we don't get that many fires in this rural area, and I don't make all the ones we do get, and I'm not usually the spear point on the ones I do make. So the fact that I was the one who ended up approaching the big propane tank to shut off the supply is pure chance. I was on the first-in truck in the officer's position, the two guys on the first hoseline were inexperienced rookies, and the next guy in rode on the tanker, which means he couldn't get an air pack on during the response.

So you see, I was the only one available with full protective equipment on. It was pure chance that I did the "exciting" part; I was just manning the second hoseline up until then. I remember thinking at the time, "If I don't get blown up, I'm going to have to clarify this, so my flist won't think I'm some kind of Action Jackson."

However, I should have known it would be more exciting than usual because when I turned on the car (after throwing my blue light on the roof to respond to the station), the "Magnum PI" theme was just coming on the radio. Those of you who have heard it will understand what I mean.

Fire destroyed a camper and scorched a nearby propane tank north of Albion Sunday.

The blaze, which was reported at 8:49 p.m., destroyed a camper at the Todd Middleton residence, east of SR 9 near CR 500N, according to the Noble County Sheriff's Department. Fire trucks had to negotiate a long private lane to reach the location, and arrived to find the camper engulfed in flames.

A large propane tank was less than ten feet from the structure, and the heat apparently caused the fuel lines to fail, causing leaking fuel that burst into flames and threatened to cause the tank to explode. Firefighters had to cool down the tank enough to approach it and turn off the fuel supply before the fire could be controlled. Two smaller propane tanks between the larger one and the camper were also endangered by the radiant heat.

Although its side was scorched, firefighters were able to control the flames without the tank failing. The camper was destroyed, and minor damage was also done to nearby structures. A resident reportedly suffered minor burns while trying to move a car from the danger zone, but refused medical treatment at the scene.

The blaze was believed to be accidental, possibly electrical in origin. Ten Albion firefighters manning three trucks responded, along with the Albion Police and Noble County Sheriff Departments.

It was the third fire in the area that day, but the only one that caused damage. Albion fire units also responded to a report of black smoke in the area of Albion Road and CR 200W at 5:53 p.m., but that ended up being a controlled burn that had not been reported to dispatchers.

At 4:34 p.m. smoke was reported in the area of the Central Noble School campus, but that also turned out to be a controlled burn of a brush pile, according to the Albion Police Department.

Albion firefighters were also called out at about 8 p.m. Friday to a boat fire near Skinner Lake, but returned to service after the owner and neighbors were able to douse the flames.

In addition, Albion fire units were called out twice last week to provide standby coverage to the Kendallville Fire Department, which fought a barn fire at 4 a.m. Friday and a house fire at about 8 a.m. Thursday.


( 35 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 3rd, 2006 09:51 am (UTC)
Isn't there some rule about safe distances of buildings around propane tanks? Or do campers fall through a loophole of non-permanent structures?

At least the idiots didn't park the camper across one of the ends, but that may have been dumb luck. I've seen them go up (LPG, rather than propane), 'tis most impressive when they blow the ends out.
Jul. 3rd, 2006 10:30 am (UTC)
The rule says permanent buildings can't be too close to the tanks. You're right, the camper is classified as non-permanent and didn't fall under that rule. Still, common sense would tell you not to park it so close to the tank -- and not to try to put out that fire with a garden hose, which we found melted. Besides, he got burned while moving a car away -- which means the car was also too close.

There should also be a rule saying you shouldn't try to power a camper's air conditioning unit with 150 feet of extension cord. *rolls eyes*

In my experience, dumb luck plays a large role in saving a lot of people, both responders and the general public. For instance, although this tank didn't have an end pointed toward a building, the end *was* pointed toward the driveway; if it had blown while we were approaching, we'd have been right in the path.
(no subject) - synaptikchaos - Jul. 5th, 2006 08:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ozma914 - Jul. 6th, 2006 12:09 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 3rd, 2006 11:19 am (UTC)
Holy crap. Come to think of it, I do think of you in Backdraft-type situations. *shivers*
Jul. 4th, 2006 01:41 am (UTC)
Unlike in "Backdraft", I wear full protective clothing and equipment -- not to mention I'm not working out of a busy Chicago firehouse -- so believe me, I'm a lot safer than those guys were. In fact, as Safety Officer I'd be the first to jerk a guy out of the hazard zone if I saw him running around with no air pack and his coat unbuttoned!
(no subject) - desdemonaspace - Jul. 4th, 2006 08:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
typical teenagers - ozma914 - Jul. 4th, 2006 11:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: typical teenagers - desdemonaspace - Jul. 4th, 2006 11:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
get back - ozma914 - Jul. 5th, 2006 12:32 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: get back - desdemonaspace - Jul. 5th, 2006 12:41 am (UTC) - Expand
the back can be a pain - ozma914 - Jul. 5th, 2006 06:32 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: the back can be a pain - desdemonaspace - Jul. 6th, 2006 10:59 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: the back can be a pain - ozma914 - Jul. 7th, 2006 02:29 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 3rd, 2006 11:53 am (UTC)
Holy Propane, Batman! That was scary!

I'd be at the point where I shuddered every time I saw a propane tank. I don't know how you do it.
Jul. 4th, 2006 01:43 am (UTC)
how we do it
Oh, that's easy: Once we've done all we can to prepare for the danger, we forget about it. It's like driving a car despite all the stories about idiots causing terrible accidents: You drive defensively but you just can't worry about it all the time, or you won't be able to function.
Re: how we do it - myfeetshowit - Jul. 4th, 2006 02:12 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: how we do it - ozma914 - Jul. 4th, 2006 02:29 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 3rd, 2006 12:19 pm (UTC)
To be honest I hadn't really thought of you in 'Backdraft' situations much - until now.

Having the tank so close is total stupidity - pity you weren't able to just send the owner in himself to turn it off!
Jul. 4th, 2006 01:47 am (UTC)
sending the owner in
What -- and let him have all the fun? :-) Keep in mind that I was wearing full protective clothing and breathing apparatus, so I was safe against the smoke, gases and radiant heat. If the tank had exploded, everyone except the truck operators was in the danger zone, so it didn't really matter exactly where I was. Which probably isn't the best thing I could have said to make you feel better ...
Jul. 3rd, 2006 02:54 pm (UTC)
Jul. 4th, 2006 01:47 am (UTC)
Couldn't have said it better myself. :-)
Jul. 3rd, 2006 03:05 pm (UTC)
Woah, scary! Also they get the moron prize of the day for parking so close to the propane tank and (from reading your comments) for parking their car too close as well.
Jul. 4th, 2006 01:50 am (UTC)
moron prize of the day
Good point. the law says fuel tanks have to be a certain distance from buildings, but there's nothing to keep property owners from parking stuff close by. The thing is, nobody things about fire danger. People invest thousands of dollars in various security systems to protect against crime, but it never occurs to them to get a fire extinguisher, change their smoke detector batteries, or keep flammable vehicles away from big honkin' propane tanks.
Jul. 3rd, 2006 03:14 pm (UTC)
"Kind of interesting" - such an understatement... you should be British LOL!! Glad you're OK!
Jul. 4th, 2006 01:53 am (UTC)
Well, I didn't want to make it sound like I was Johnny and Roy on "Emergency", sliding down the side of a high-rise on a rope. Heck, I haven't seen something blow up in months!
Jul. 3rd, 2006 06:27 pm (UTC)
Crikey! That still sounds like a fair few fires. It's certainly lots more than I fought this weekend :)
Jul. 3rd, 2006 11:48 pm (UTC)
Remind me mark, to tell you the glorious tale of the house that went boom.
Has to do with a natural house/meth lab and a 40 mm gernade.
Whoops. Good thing we brought marshmellows.
(no subject) - ozma914 - Jul. 4th, 2006 02:02 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ozma914 - Jul. 4th, 2006 01:57 am (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 4th, 2006 02:27 am (UTC)
Well, I don't much *look* like John Travolta, but I'd imagine my character's closer to his than to anyone from "Backdraft". Ladder 49 is definitely more realistic, although that's relative when you're talking movies. (But we don't have a ladder truck -- the closest one is 12 miles away, in Kendallville.)

We cover a 96 square mile area; in the middle of that is Albion, which is a town of about 2,400 and has gone through a decade of unusual growth that's given us a lot more industries, businesses, housing, ect. Pretty much anything that can happen in a big city can happen here, with the exception of a high rise fire; but the courthouse is 5 stories tall (including tower), and our highest ladders reach three stories, so we can have the equivalent.
The other 90 some square miles has another four thousand people or so, and contains a lot of rural housing built by people moving from Fort Wayne to more rural areas. Same fires, with the added challenge of limited water supply and a big honkin' propane tank at every residence. We've also got farms, fields, woods, two state highways and US 6, and of course the state park, which gets pretty darn crowded during summer.

So -- lots of challenges. The only real difference between us and a big city fire department is that we have a lower run volume, and no full time crews.
Jul. 5th, 2006 08:08 pm (UTC)
Now that is scary. So glad you and all the other firefighters weren't injured.

(And in a weird but related aside - I thought about you when I was at my aunt's funeral in April. Just because, in the little refreshment room at the funeral home - why are they always in the basement? - there was a disply of antique toy firetrucks. There they were, about six or seven of them, in an old curio cabinet next to the bad coffee and the overly-carbonated pop machine.)
Jul. 6th, 2006 12:07 am (UTC)
I've have probably made people mad at me at the funeral by hovering over the display, admiring the fire trucks. :-/
(no subject) - cbtreks - Jul. 6th, 2006 11:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ozma914 - Jul. 7th, 2006 03:38 am (UTC) - Expand
( 35 comments — Leave a comment )

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