Four fire departments were needed to control a fire that heavily damaged a house near Kimmell Sunday.
The Ben Miller residence, at 1993 N US 33, turned out to be unoccupied at the time the blaze broke out at about 11 a.m., but firefighters didn't know that at the time. Albion and Cromwell firefighters arrived to find heavy flames coming from the large, two story wood frame structure, and had to beat back the flames while searching the residence for victims. Noble Township fire units quickly came to assist, and later on an Orange Township fire truck, which had come from Rome City to cover Albion's empty fire station, also responded to the scene.
The cause of the fire, which is believed to have broken out on the first floor and spread quickly upstairs, is undetermined and remains under investigation. Part of the building's downstairs was being remodeled, but it wasn't known if that was connected to the fire.
Most of the family's belongings were damaged or destroyed by flames, smoke and heat, and it wasn't certain if the structure itself could be salvaged. The American Red Cross was called to the scene to assist the family.
About half a dozen fire department tankers shuttled water to the scene, which is far from the nearest hydrant. Firefighters were hampered by a live power line that burned through and lay arcing near the house, and by warm and humid weather, and one firefighter reportedly fell partially through a weakened floor. However, although a Noble County EMS crew assisted at the scene, no serious injuries were reported. It took about 45 minutes to bring the blaze under control.
The exact number of firefighters who worked at the scene was uncertain, but 20 Albion firefighters responded, manning two pumpers, two tankers, a rescue truck and a command vehicle. Fire departments from as far away as Thorn Creek and Churubusco were involved in standbys. Also assisting at the scene were the Noble County Sheriff's Department, which had to shut down US 33 for a time, and an Indiana Michigan Power crew.
The fire was one of three that Albion fire units responded to in a 12 hour period, including a barn fire that also damaged a house in Green Township, and a railroad car fire on the CSX tracks near Kimmell.
That was the big one for the Albion FD, but earlier that morning:
A rolling coal fire brought fire trucks to a CSX Railroad crossing near Kimmell early Sunday.
It wasn't certain how the coal, being carried by a CSX freight train, caught fire, or where. It was extinguished by Albion and Cromwell firefighters when the train crew learned of the blaze and managed to bring the burning car to a stop right at the CR 500W railroad crossing, according to the Noble County Sheriff's Department. Fire units were originally paged out at 7:53 a.m., but confusion about the train's location originally led dispatchers to believe it was near Avilla. Once the location was confirmed, firefighters arrived to find coal burning near the rear of a car.
Firefighters used a foam-like additive to their water, allowing it to soak into the piles of smoldering coal, and a thermal imaging camera to locate hot spots. They were able to get the blaze under control about 20 minutes after arriving on the scene, although the train reportedly stopped again in Garrett to have more hot spots extinguished. No injuries were reported.
and the previous night ...
A Saturday night fire in Green Township destroyed a barn and damaged a house, but no injuries were reported.
Flames that engulfed a barn at the Tim Troyer residence, 3475 S 500 E, were discovered at 10:42 p.m., according to the Noble County Sheriff's Department. The large barn was destroyed by the blaze, and radiant heat damaged the nearby two story wood frame home before firefighters were able to bring the situation under control.
The cause of the blaze was undetermined, and remained under investigation.
Churubusco, Albion, Avilla, LaOtto, and Huntertown fire units responded to the call, remaining on scene for over three hours. The Noble County Sheriff's Department was also called out to assist in traffic control, which was complicated by several tankers that had to shuttle water to and from the scene.
And now, the pics:
What would you have thought, seeing this as you arrived on the scene? I thought someone must have been upstairs, and used the chair to break out a window and escape. But it was actually the first crew upstairs, trying to ventilate the smoke and superheated gases while doing their search. This was a no-no: every inside team is supposed to take forcible entry tools with them.
A hose crew waits for water from the next in tanker. The traffic cones are being used to mark the location of a live power line downed by the flames, and if you look closely you can see it arcing.
The Rapid Intervention Team, standing by in case a firefighter gets trapped or lost inside. Behind them you see the tanker shuttle in operation, which is why US 33 had to be closed down. The nearest hydrant is several miles away -- they were refilling from a lake.
Dude, this is NOT what we mean by "burning a disc". This is, however, what we mean by heat damage.
Speaking of heat -- most of the damage you see here is from heat, not flames -- it's on the opposite side of the home from where the fire broke out. Firefighters first entered from the door to the kitchen: the "unburned side".
Overhaul -- we're searching out hidden, smoldering embers, doing an investigation, making a report, and in general just resting up. Half an hour inside a burning building is about the max, before a body needs some rest and rehabilitation.