Thursday, June 28, 2012

Victorian Home Burns Near San Jose State Campus

Photo By Bruce Dembecki
A little before 8:30 P.M,. on Thursday June 28, the San Jose Fire Department received reports of smoke coming from a home at 435 S. 7th Street in downtown San Jose. By the time firefighters arrived, many calls had been received, some reporting flame - all reporting smoke. First-due Engine 3 arrived and reported initially light to moderate smoke coming from all windows. As they investigated, they were able to determine that the home was unoccupied, and when they made access they found heavy fire on both the first and second floors, At that time, the fire had broken through the roof, too.
Engine 3 immediately called a second alarm and arriving units were assigned to structure protection on the two homes on either side of the fire building. Conditions inside the home were untenable and it was quickly decided to switch to a defensive strategy. Battalion 1 ordered crews to set up for Ladder Pipe operations and requested a third alarm, which led to a Fire Associates call out.
Fire Associates member Bruce Dembecki responded with Fire Support Unit 2, and reports that smoke from the fire was visible from Highway 85 and Almaden Expressway, several miles away. Fire Support Unit 2 was on scene less than 40 minutes after the first reports of fire. Bruce was met on scene by Fire Associates members Jerry Haag and John Whitaker, along with John's wife, Liz.
The fire building had been under renovation by the owner and electrical wiring had been replaced earlier in the day. The owner had expected to rent the property out next week. While the cause of the fire was not immediately known, it was evident that the fire was not intentionally set. Firefighters believe the fire was burning unnoticed in the home for some time before smoke was able to escape and draw the attention of neighbors.
Photo By Bruce Dembecki
With a fire that was defensive from the onset, and no inside fire fight, it was decided not to establish a formal medical rehab, and instead, Fire Support Unit 2 established a rehydration station on 7th Street. Cold drinks were greatly appreciated by fire crews. After more than 2 hours on scene, Fire Support Unit 2 was released after 11:00 P.M., along with other units on scene. By 12:30 A.M., crews on scene were released with a fresh engine company called to the site to serve as Fire Watch overnight.
-- Report submitted by Bruce Dembecki