Thursday, December 1, 2011

Three Fires In A Span of 5 Hours Keeps Fire Associates Members Busy

The first day of December became a busy day for Santa Clara county fire departments and, hence, Fire Associates' members. Three different fires in the span of 5 hours stretched from Campbell to South San Jose. Descriptions of the 3 events follows:

3:21 P.M. Thursday, December 1 
Photo by Brian A. Floyd, Campbell Patch
Santa Clara County Fire Calls for Aid at 2-Alarm Fire In Campbell

On Wednesday evening, the weather forecasters were all predicting strong winds for the entire state of California. So, it was not surprising when a structure fire in Campbell quickly went to a second alarm. John Whitaker was returning home from an errand when the call for assistance came from the Santa Clara County Fire Department. He looked across the Valley and saw a plume of smoke rising from the Valley's West Side.

John quickly went home, donned his FASCV gear, and responded in Fire Support Unit 2 to the location at 420 Nello Drive - parallelling San Tomas Expressway. He was met on scene by FASCV member George Hoyt who helped with rehab location. Also helping with rehab set up was past FASCV guest Walt Huber.

Considering the strong winds, and the building's shake-roof construction, County Fire crews made a good knockdown of the blaze. The fire apparently began in a garage area at the rear of the structure. Flames spread up the exterior of the building and entered he attic space through the roof vents. Once inside the attic, the fire ran the length of the building.
About an hour after FSU-2 arrived on scene, a second, unrelated, multi-alarm fire broke out less than 2 miles away. Crews who were on the periphery of the fireground were quickly dispatched to the new incident, leaving extremely "jealous" first-in firefighters who were still occupied with the Nello Drive overhaul.

4:49 P.M. Thursday, December 1 
Another 2-Alarm Incident Causes Santa Clara County Fire to Respond to Its Second Fire In Campbell
Photo by Brian A. Floyd, Campbell Patch
The second fire of the day was not far from the first. Located at 600 Marathon Drive, just 2 intersections up the San Tomas Expressway, this fire was burning on an exterior balcony. Because of the high winds, it didn't take long for the fire to enter the attic and through the 12-unit building.
Because Fire Support Unit 2 was tied up providing service at the first fire, Bob Gundrum responded to this incident in FSU-1. He was joined on scene by Jerry Haag, Ron Green, Bruce Dembecki, Larry Carr, George Hoyt and Walter Huber (guest). John Whitaker was eventually released from the Nello Drive fire and responded in with FSU-2. Jerry's report follows:

Date and Time: 01 December 2011, 1630 hours
Agency: Santa Clara County Fire
Incident Address: 600 Marathon Drive, Campbell
Type: 2nd alarm.

Details: Large, two-story, non-sprinklered apartment building. Fire on a second floor balcony, threat to spread to attic. Truss roof warning issued.

CNT: E-6, 8, 9, 15, 301; R-17 and 3; T-1, 5; HM-2; BS-2; ICs Batt-2 (Cocraft) and Batt-12 (Salazar); Batt-3; Batt-14
FASCV Responding Units: FSU-1, supplemented by FSU-2 which was returning from a nearby 2nd alarm fire. Eventually, FSU-2 left the scene to go back into service just in time to attend a Tier vegetation fire in South San Jose. FSU-1 was released at 1930 hours.

7:21 P.M. Thursday, December 1
Fire Associates Responds to a Rare Nighttime Tier Vegetation Fire in South San Jose
Photo by Bruce Dembecki

With two structure fires under his belt, John Whitaker was just about to put FSU-2 away for the night at SJFD Station 6 when the rig radio began to crackle with word of a vegetation fire in South San Jose. So, sitting on the apron of Station 6, and knowing that it was a cold, windy night, John called Fire Dispatch to ask if the IC would like to have an already staffed Support Unit respond. The reply from Battalion 13 was, "Yes!" That's all John needed to hear, and he was off!

Located at 5215 Hellyer Ave., the fire was reported to be about an acre in size and located behind a row of office and industrial buildings. Even with the quicker than usual response, by the time John arrived, the fire had already been knocked down and crews were mopping up. The Engine 18 Captain explained that they had been to the site about an hour earlier and could not find a fire. This time, the crews had a better idea where to look and arrived at the exact site. With a hydrant handy, the engines were able to quell the fire with deck guns and minimal hand lines -- therefore, there was not much mop up required.

By this time, John had been joined by George Hoyt and Bruce Dembecki, who helped provide some fluids and Clif Bars to crews who had not yet had dinner. MMMMM... Gatorade and Clif Bars for dinner - yum!