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How I spent my birthday weekend:

Friday was not only my birthday, it was also the anniversary of my becoming a firefighter. It was only appropriate, then, that the weekend by marked by a truly unusual rash of calls. The Albion fire department averages just under one run per day, and in two days we had, let's see ... 3 structure fires, a tree fire from power lines down, a carbon monoxide alarm, and I believe one or two first responder runs.

Now, let me point out two things: First, I missed some of the Friday calls, because we were down at the movies in Fort Wayne during the storm (Superman Returns -- not as good as the first two Chris Reeve movies, but worth the price of the popcorn). Second, the fact that I made the first truck on both the Saturday fires is pretty unusual. I was one of the few who happened to still be up when the barn fire came in, and Jillian and I were actually parked at the fire station to drop off a camera when the garage fire was paged. Maybe it could be looked at as a birthday gift, being able to stretch the first lines on two fires. Or, considering the humidity, maybe not. :-)

(Warning! Three long articles and 3 pictures!)


Severe weather caused a few problems around Noble County Friday, mostly related to torrential rains that caused localized flooding.

A witness near Wolf Lake reportedly observed clouds spinning close to the ground at around 1:15 p.m., according to the Noble County Sheriff's Department. However, National Weather Service officials at the North Webster radar site told officials they saw no sign of rotation, and there were no other reports of possible tornadic activity.

Wind gusts of up to 30 mph were reported, along with lightning and heavy rains. Some areas around the state reported as much as three inches of rain in less than an hour.

The wind brought power lines down along CR 600N, near Sacryder Lake, which in turn reportedly ignited a tree which according to some reports fell across the roadway. Albion firefighters responded to the incident at 1:42 p.m., but allowed the fire to burn itself out. REMC linemen were called out to repair the line.

About fifteen minutes before that Albion and Orange Township fire trucks were called to a garage fire along Maplewood Drive, near Waldron Lake. It was uncertain if that blaze, which reportedly started in a garage and moved from there into an attic area, was related to weather, but the storm was coming through at about the same time.

Meanwhile, US 6 in Kendallville and US 33 near Merriam were reportedly flooded for a time, with standing water slowing traffic on both highways.

No injuries were reported in any of the calls.

In an unrelated incident, Albion firefighters, who responded to three different structure fires over the weekend, were also sent Friday to a carbon monoxide alarm near Lower Long Lake. A gas fireplace was reportedly the cause of the alarm, which caused no injuries. The call came in at 8:12 p.m. to a Ridgewood Drive residence, and firefighters were on scene for about half an hour.


Fire consumed a large barn near Skinner Lake early Saturday.

The cause of the blaze, which was already engulfing the building at 3416 E SR 8 when a passer-by noticed it at about 1:40 a.m., is undetermined and remains under investigation. The owner of the property was reportedly Jonathan Spohr of Albion. No one was hurt, although crews from four fire departments had to be rotated at the scene because of the warm temperature and extreme humidity, which threatened to cause heat exhaustion.

The fire destroyed a metal sided barn, about fifty by sixty feet, along with a block
building attached to it and an old semi trailer parked beside it. A pickup truck inside the barn and several other pieces of equipment were also destroyed.

Firefighting efforts were hampered not only by the weather conditions, but by a live power line that burned through and lay in the wet grass at the front of the building.

Seven Albion fire trucks responded, manned by 22 firefighters, along with units of the Avilla, Kendallville, and Orange Township fire departments. Also on the scene were members of the Noble County EMS, Sheriff's Department and Noble REMC, and the Albion Police Department. Noble Township fire units were brought into Albion for standby during the incident, which lasted about four hours. Pulver's Excavating assisted by moving debris aside, allowing firefighters to extinguish hidden embers.

Many of the same firefighters worked at a home fire in Green Township, later that same day.

Caption: Firefighters stand by to hit hot spots revealed by an excavator at an early morning barn fire near Skinner Lake Saturday.


Responders from a dozen different agencies worked to contain a Green Township house fire in hot, humid conditions Saturday evening.

Firefighters saved a pet dog and were able to keep flames from most of the house, after a blaze broke out at the Bobby Bearing residence, 0464 S 75 E. However, the home sustained heavy smoke and heat damage, leaving the family homeless.

The blaze apparently started in the attached garage, but the cause hasn't been determined and remains under investigation. No one was home at the time and no serious injuries were reported, according to the Noble County Sheriff's Department.

A neighbor spotted the fire at about 7:46 p.m., and as soon as Albion and Noble Township firefighters were paged out they could see a column of black smoke, visible from miles away. Within a minute, several other emergency services were called out for assistance.

Firefighters arrived to find the garage engulfed in flames so intense that the roof burned through, with fire working its way into the attic above the home. From inside the house, firefighters were able to stop the spread of the blaze while others knocked down the flames in the garage and protected a nearby propane tank.

Unsure if anyone was home, firefighters also searched the residence. It turned out the family was not there at the time, but responders rescued a large dog, which was suffering from smoke inhalation. Noble County EMS medics were able to resuscitate the animal, and it was soon up and walking around outside, barking at all the strangers.

Controlling the flames turned out to be a more difficult job, because of several potential hazards inside the burning garage that were difficult to extinguish. A race car, racing fuel, acetylene tank, welding outfit, and gasoline powered tools such as a riding lawn mower were among items inside the garage. Firefighters used a special foam solution to suffocate those flames, after at least one explosion occurred.

Despite those hazards and the warm, very humid conditions, no injuries were reported. Several mutual aid units were called in from surrounding fire departments so crews could be rotated, to prevent cases of heat exhaustion.

Over two dozen emergency units responded to the fire, including an American Red Cross
crew called out to assist the family. Fire Departments which provided trucks, manpower, water tankers, or standby assistance included the Albion, Avilla, Churubusco, Cromwell, Kendallville, Ligonier, Noble Township, Orange Township, Garrett, Johnson Township, and Thorn Creek.

A special machine was brought in by the Avilla Fire Department to remove smoldering insulation from the damaged attic, and Fire Auxiliary members brought in drinks to help rehydrate firefighters. Representatives of the Noble REMC and Albion Veterinary Clinic also came out to help, and Owen Excavating brought a machine in to help bring down the dangerously leaning walls of the garage. The Noble County Sheriff's Department assisted with traffic control.

Fire units worked at the scene for about three and a half hours. For the Albion Fire Department, which brought 8 trucks and 20 firefighters to the scene, it was the second structure fire of the day; they were called out early that morning to a barn fire near Skinner Lake.

caption 1: Firefighters douse smoldering embers at a fire that destroyed an attached garage and damaged the Bobby Bearing home,at 0464 S 75 E.

caption 2: Not long after being pulled from a smoke filled home at 0464 S 75 E and resuscitated by medics, a large dog watches firefighters work while water tankers line up on the road behind it.


( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 17th, 2006 07:39 am (UTC)
After 26 years, it has to feel like such a great decision to choose to become a firefighter on your actual birthday! That's one of those things that could turn out to be an irritating reminder of failure, and I'm really glad it wasn't that for you.

Sounds like you were really busy! Hopefully you like your co-workers (unlike so many of us) and therefore were able to still enjoy your birthday. There's something about being good at what you do (whether you get paid for it or not, and in my area, it's all volunteer) that can make you feel fantastic, and to get to feel like that on your birthday has to be pretty special.

I think I slept through my most recent birthday, heh.
Jul. 18th, 2006 05:26 am (UTC)
My department is all volunteer, except for one part time position, and most of the surrounding fire departments are also volunteer. My full time job is as an emergency dispatcher, so sometimes I have to actually dispatch my own fire department out. Then, if the weather's really bad, I can make fun of them when they return. :-)

Firefighters are a big family, and like any big family sometimes we argue and fight, but we always hang in there together. Generally, we all get along pretty well -- after all, we sometimes hold each other's lives in our hands. In any case, doing this certainly is a special feeling, and there are lots worse things I could have done on my birthday!
But sleep's fine, too. :-)
Jul. 17th, 2006 07:52 am (UTC)
You're not getting older just closer to death
As Fraiser once said.

Happy birthday for Friday.
Jul. 18th, 2006 05:28 am (UTC)
Re: You're not getting older just closer to death
Thanks -- and yeah, I'm with Fraiser on that one. Didn't his dog just die? Too bad we couldn't have been there for him.
Jul. 17th, 2006 09:25 am (UTC)
Hey Happy Birthday!!
Aww Cute dog

glad you guys got him out in time
Jul. 18th, 2006 05:29 am (UTC)
I'm just glad the medics were on the scene with their equipment -- so we didn't have to do mouth-to-mouth!
Jul. 17th, 2006 11:00 am (UTC)
First of all: Happy Birthday (again.)

I'm sorry you're in pain. Is it the back again? Ach. But I'm glad the doggy was saved.
Jul. 18th, 2006 05:31 am (UTC)
Actually, my back's doing okay. My shoulders are hurting where the air pack straps dig in, my legs are kind of sore from slogging through the mud around the barn, and my arms are stiff from having to handle the nozzle by myself at the garage fire, while the rest of the first-in crew pulled the dog out. Nothing permanent!
Jul. 18th, 2006 11:24 am (UTC)
::is relieved::

Am I shallow for thinking you have a glamorous job? Yes.
Jul. 19th, 2006 05:31 am (UTC)
It depends largely on how you define glamorous. Or, more to the point, there are *parts* of the job that are glamorous, while most of the rest is tiring, dirty, disgusting, boring, etc. You don't see those parts on TV. :-)

The same goes for many other jobs, such as police work, fashion modeling, and so on -- firefighting is hardly alone in that. When I took up model photography as a hobby, I was amazed at how much work had to be done by both photographer and model just to get one shot.

So the short answer is, yeah, it's a glamorous job. Sometimes.
Jul. 17th, 2006 11:10 am (UTC)
I'm sorry you're hurting, but it's no wonder after the busy weekend you had! I can only imagine how heavy the equipment must be. *boggles*

Happy, happy birthday, Mark! *sends cake and ice cream*
Jul. 18th, 2006 05:35 am (UTC)
Cake and ice cream make everything better!
All the equipment, including the air tank and everything we carry in our pockets, comes out to around 50 pounds, give or take -- not including the hose, nozzle and hand tools. But it's actually lighter than it used to be, and the level of protection is much higher. The only burn I got all weekend was lighting the grill for my birthday dinner. :->
Jul. 17th, 2006 12:05 pm (UTC)
A bit belated but Happy Birthday!
Jul. 17th, 2006 04:10 pm (UTC)
Day of cake and death
Happy birthday boss!

Congrats, and welcome to getting older... ROFL.
Seriously, congrats and I hope you get to have a beer for your b day.
Jul. 18th, 2006 05:40 am (UTC)
Re: Day of cake and death
I don't drink, but I did have a Mountain Dew Friday, which is probably less healthy than beer ... At the fires on Saturday I had several bottles of water and several cups of lemonade -- and still lost a few pounds!
Jul. 18th, 2006 05:36 am (UTC)
Thanks! Hey, you're clear across the pond, we'll just say it took awhile for the news to reach you. *smile*
Jul. 17th, 2006 04:59 pm (UTC)
Happy anniversary for Friday too! What a great dog, and an amazing line of vehicles behind it!

What did you think of the 'scene that did nothing for the plot' in Superman? I felt it could have gone really....
Jul. 18th, 2006 05:38 am (UTC)
Yeah, that was a dead end road we were on (on the north side of our state park), so the water tanker shuttle was a problem. I thought that would make a pretty good picture -- too bad I didn't have a better zoom lens.

I'm not sure which scene you're talking about in Superman, unless you mean the entire subplot with the kid ..
Jul. 18th, 2006 05:49 am (UTC)
LOL!! No, the one I mean is the rooftop bank robbery, which didn't seem to relate to anything else but was a change to show off all the purty special effects. It was clever, but really unnecessary I thought, and slowed things down.
Jul. 18th, 2006 07:32 am (UTC)
Ah -- as you probably now know, I'm just starting to catch up on my flist. I guess all superhero origin/return stories need that sequence where the public learns that "he's back!"
Jul. 18th, 2006 12:13 am (UTC)
Hey, that looks almost like my dogs, except they are solid fawn with black masks--of course, St. Bernards and Mastiffs do come from the same original breed.

I don't think this is what is supposed to be meant by a 'hot time on old town tonight', especially on your birthday.
Jul. 18th, 2006 05:21 am (UTC)
I didn't know St. Bernards and Mastiffs came from the same breed ... although now that I think of it, it certainly makes sense. It's always great to learn something interesting!

No, the events of last weekend didn't quite fit in with my idea of a hot time, either ... but truthfully, it didn't interfere with any wild parties on my agenda!
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )

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