"Twas the night before Christmas, and the Fire Associates members were all snug in their beds, when the San Jose Fire Department called for our aid."
That was the story at 2:03 A.M. on Dec. 25, when FASCV was paged to a condo fire at 510 Branham Lane East. Rumor on scene had it that Santa had spotted a column of smoke while making his rounds and called it in. Don Gilbert leapt out of bed and responded in Support Unit 2. He was met on scene by three of the FASCV elves -- John Whitaker, Mike Chappell and Ron Green.
The fire was burning a row of condos with the only access road being a wide driveway between the row of units. The first responding firefighters quickly initiated an interior attack, looking for possible occupants. It turned out that the residents were away for the day -- visiting relatives for the holiday.
Temperatures were in the mid-30s, and frost was evident on cars parked in the area. But, the FASCV members "...spoke not a word, and went straight to their work."
Fire crews initially rehydrated with water and Gatorade, but hot coffee soon was in demand to help fight off the early-morning chill. Being Christmas Eve, it was very appropriate that FASCV was serving fresh-ground, Starbuck's "Christmas Blend" beans.
After all the crews had been served, Support Unit 2 was released at 4:15 A.M. "...and away they all flew like the down of a thistle. But we heard Don exclaim, 'ere he drove out of sight...Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"
- John Whitaker's photos can be viewed at: SJS - Branham Lane Condo
- A San Jose Mercury News story covering the incident can be read at: Early Morning Fire