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How, you ask, would a broken computer lead to me being with the first truck in on a house fire? Fair question.

That morning, my daughter hit the power button on our trusty Mac, and was hit back in return with -- nothing. No welcoming chime, no e-mail, no LJ, nuttin'. She tried to e-mail me with the problem, but ... :-) On my particular model there's a little place on the back which, when pressed with a toothpick or pencil tip, can often get a reluctant computer going, and so it did -- it got my computer going to that little blinking question mark stage, which on a Mac means you're in big trouble, Mister. After a great deal of work that I didn't really have time for, I was able to get the computer going from the install disk, but when I tried to reinstall the system software, the install disk told me it couldn't install onto the hard drive because there WAS NO HARD DRIVE. This is bad.

I know: "What about the fire?" -- wait for it, I'm getting there.

By now our tight schedule was half a day further behind, so we went on with our various other jobs in what generously could be described as a foul mood. But we had scheduled in some time to check our e-mails, so I got a bright idea. How about, I said to my daughter, a trip to the fire station? They had two computers there, old but internet capable, which is more than I could say for any computer at my house. We could relax for awhile, check our e-mails, and generally take it easy. Also, the station's offices are air conditioned. The perfect plan.

By now you've figured things out. I had just turned to jillyh2009 and said, "Well, we'd better get on home and get back to work", when the pager went off. This is why jillyh2009 spent the rest of the evening watching TV at the fire station.

(Oh, and before I forget -- the next day I hit the power button on my computer out of hopeless desperation, and it came right on. Maybe somebody just wanted me at the station that night.)

Thus, I was first at the station and made the first truck, in a somewhat more excitable mood than usual considering the dispatcher was receiving reports of an elderly disabled person still trapped inside. Neighbors -- gotta love 'em -- pulled him out of a doorway before we arrived, which is a good thing, because the so-called "modular" homes can burn just as fast as mobile homes, and this one did. Those of you familiar with my previous posts will be happy to know the electrical service was buried and the heating system's propane tank didn't get *too* hot ... although you can add aerosol cans to the list of items that can cause excitement at a fire scene. Here's the news article on it:


An Albion area resident was hospitalized after a fire broke out in his home Friday night. James Brewer, of 3110 W Wildlife Way, reportedly suffered smoke inhalation, but was rescued from his blazing home by neighbors.

What caused the fire, which destroyed the Lower Long Lake home southeast of Albion, was undetermined, and remains under investigation. Officials from the State Fire Marshal’s Office were scheduled to come out Monday to assist in determining the cause, but there was no immediate indication that it was anything but accidental.

Noble County Sheriff’s Department dispatchers first received a call of smoke in the area at 7:49 p.m., and within minutes got several more calls of a house fire with a person possibly trapped inside. The Albion Fire Department had its first truck enroute within three minutes, but already a column of dark smoke could be seen from miles away. Firefighters arrived to find the one story wood frame home engulfed in flames, and it took about 20 minutes to bring the fire under control.

According to a witness, neighbors rushed to the home, found James Brewer near a doorway, and were able to get him to safety despite thick smoke. Brewer, who is reportedly an invalid, was believed to be the only person home at the time of the fire, although his wife arrived shortly after the blaze was discovered. Brewer was reportedly taken to Parkview Noble Hospital in Kendallville for treatment of smoke inhalation.

Initially thinking someone was still trapped in the residence, firefighters called in a massive amount of assistance that ultimately included five fire departments, two ambulances, and Noble County Sheriff’s deputies. Although they learned shortly after arriving that Brewer had been rescued and no one else was home, responders were still faced with a completely engulfed home, a rapidly heating propane tank just feet away, and several explosions that were thought to be aerosol cans rupturing. They battled the flames in hot weather with high humidity, but although Noble County EMS crews checked several firefighters, no treatment was necessary except for replenishing fluids.

Early in the fire the wood truss roof of the two year old modular home failed. It collapsed into the building and trapped burning material beneath it, which apparently caused part of the floor to also burn through, making it difficult for firefighters to gain access. It took about four hours for firefighters, using hand tools and searching with a thermal imaging camera, to search out and extinguish the last of the smoldering embers in the building, which was completely destroyed.

All the belongings in the home were also lost, although firefighters were able to remove a safe. Mrs. Brewer was reportedly staying at a Kendallville motel, and the American Red Cross had been contacted to assist the family.

Two dozen Albion firefighters manning 6 trucks responded to the blaze. Trucks, water tankers, and manpower from the Cromwell, Kendallville, Ligonier, and Noble Township fire departments also responded, while the Orange Township Fire Department sent a crew from Rome City to Albion for stand by. In addition, Noble County Sheriff Department and EMS units, the Albion Police Department, American Red Cross, and Noble REMC all assisted with the incident.



One of the first pics I took after I went through rehab and was able to grab a camera; I was kind of busy before that.


The fire you see is coming from an interior closet, which we had trouble reaching because the floor was beginning to give way. The roof collapsed straight down, leaving flaming void spaces at ground level that began burning through the floor.


From a photographer's standpoint, this was one of the better pics. you're seeing half of the "V" pattern, which indicates where the fire may have started; I'm leaning toward electrical, personally, but the State Fire Marshal's Office will conduct an official investigation.


If you look closely, you'll see the remains of a bed -- that's how hot this fire burned.


I added this because it's an unusual perspective on a burned building: from above, by way of a ladder we placed to try and reach the smoldering debris without risking ourselves on the burned-through floor.

Comments

( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
myfeetshowit
Jul. 31st, 2006 12:20 am (UTC)
It shows to go ya, when everyone is talking about the recent heat-wave--it's all relative!

I hope these people have good insurance!

And I'm glad everyone (yourself included) got away without being propelled by propane or attacked by aerosol cans.
myfeetshowit
Jul. 31st, 2006 12:20 am (UTC)
It shows to go ya, when everyone is talking about the recent heat-wave--it's all relative!

I hope these people have good insurance!

And I'm glad everyone (yourself included) got away without being propelled by propane or attacked by aerosol cans.

And these are excellent pics.
myfeetshowit
Jul. 31st, 2006 12:20 am (UTC)
Okay. I swear I only hit send once.

spooky...
ozma914
Jul. 31st, 2006 04:49 am (UTC)
Wow -- deja vus!
ozma914
Jul. 31st, 2006 04:48 am (UTC)
Actually, the outside temperature had cooled down to the mid-eighties when this fire broke out; the inside temperature was somewhere around 1,300F.

I don't know if they were insured, but since the house was only a couple of years old and they probably had it financed, I'd assume so. Right now the Red Cross is taking care of them, and local residents usually respond pretty well to the needs of people going through a personal disaster like this.

As for aerosol cans, they're usually pretty harmless unless you're right by them when they go off. They made a lot of noise, and a pretty show once or twice, though!

Thanks for the comment on the pics. Overall, the pics I took that night were more blurred than I would have thought, but it was probably camera shake. I'd been through the initial attack on the fire, and I was pretty hot and tired at that point, so it's hard to keep the camera still.
myfeetshowit
Jul. 31st, 2006 05:01 am (UTC)
I have a cousin with scars on his face because he and his brothers (6, 8, and 12) decided to make a pretty show by throwing aerosol cans on a fire. I refuse to have them in the house.

I'll bet you were hot and tired. Definitely more exciting than playing with broken PCs.
ozma914
Jul. 31st, 2006 09:30 pm (UTC)
I would certainly hope that the cousin learned his lesson! At least, on that subject.

Hot isn't the word. Actually, one of the most uncomfortable parts of fighting fire on a hot day is at the end of it, when you take your gear off and have to deal with clothes that are as wet as if you've been swimming in them. Ick. But yes, the excitement level is there.
ozma914
Jul. 31st, 2006 04:49 am (UTC)
Wow -- deja vus!
alwaysjbj
Jul. 31st, 2006 04:17 am (UTC)
Wow! Fabulous photos. I'm glad the neighbours were able to get the man out and that no one was hurt.
ozma914
Jul. 31st, 2006 04:51 am (UTC)
the neighbors
Glad you liked the pictures. And about the neighbors, absolutely -- people call me brave, but I'm all suited up in thousands of dollars worth of protective equipment! They were running up there in their shirtsleeves.
myfeetshowit
Jul. 31st, 2006 04:58 am (UTC)
Re: the neighbors
It is amazing how emergencies like this can bring out the best in people.
ozma914
Jul. 31st, 2006 09:27 pm (UTC)
Re: the neighbors
The best and the worst, that's all you get -- never any in between.
curiouswombat
Jul. 31st, 2006 08:35 pm (UTC)
That looks nasty - I am glad the occupant got out OK - and I'm allmost as glad that you 'puter is speaking to you again!
ozma914
Jul. 31st, 2006 09:38 pm (UTC)
I guess you could say it was a very bad day that could have ended much, much worse.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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