Thursday, September 30, 2010

September 25 -- 3rd-Alarm House Fire In San Jose

Early Saturday morning, Sept. 25, the San Jose Fire Dept. called for assistance from Fire Associates. The three-alarm fire was burning at 1475 Newport Ave. in the City's Willow Glen neighborhood. Bruce Dembecki and Don Gilbert responded to Station 6 and had Fire Support Unit 2 out the door by 12:55 A.M.  for the "long" journey to the fire ground. After an eventful trip (where somehow the team didn't get lost on the way), Support Unit 2 went on scene at 12:56 A.M. They were joined on scene by FASCV members John Whitaker, Herman De Kruyff, Dan Wong and Mike Chappell. Bruce has submitted the following report:

When on scene, we were ultimately directed to establish Rehab four houses north of the fire house, and together with AMR and the crew of Engine 7, full rehab with medical monitoring was established under the command of Med 30. In addition to our normal Rehab duties, FASCV members were also involved in moving 300 feet of 5" hose lay and setting up the SJFD porta potty trailer when it arrived on the back of Battalion 29, or as one fire department staffer jokingly called the B/C buggy, "Potty 29".

The fire struck at the rear of a large two story Victorian style house. First unit "on scene" was SJPD's Air 2, reporting the blaze from above and directing Engine 6 into the fire scene. Upon arrival, Engine 6 called for a second alarm, declaring that the rear of the building was fully engulfed, with fire in the basement, first and second floors, and shooting through the roof (which is surely what initially got Air 2's attention). With elapsed time at less than 30 minutes, Incident Commander, B/C 1 Garry Galasso, called for a third alarm. The fire appeared to have originated at a shed at the rear of the property, with the cause still under investigation.

After establishing several Aerial master streams to reduce the heat and flames, what was left was the remains of a 4,000-square-foot house with small spot fires spread throughout. A considerable effort was put on exposure protection and ember patrols, to ensure that no other nearby properties were impacted. Power wires were down and PG&E ultimately disconnected power to the entire area to facilitate fire department ladder operations. The fire was a three-alarm response from San Jose Fire, with additional Mutual Aid resources from County being called up on to provide station coverage.

Ultimately, it was decided that an ongoing fire fighting effort would be needed to monitor the three levels of the building and pick off fires as they sprung up. The fire was contained rather than defeated, with the bulk of the crews being released around 3:30am and after packing up FSU 2 arrived back in quarters at 04:00. Fire watch consisting of an engine and a truck remained on scene throughout the day to deal with the fire inside the structure, and as of the time of writing this report replacement fire watch crews were being dispatched to continue these efforts through at least 16:30.