Sunday, June 30, 2013

Simultaneous Apartment House and Vegetation Fires Keep San Jose Firefighters Busy

Photo By John Whitaker
Fire #1:
On Sunday, June 30, Fire Associates responded Fire Support Unit 3 to a San Jose structure fire at an apartment complex located at 3987 Ellmar Oaks Drive. First arriving crews to the mid-afternoon blaze, discovered the second-floor balcony of a 6-plex building fully involved with the fire spreading rapidly to the attic area.
On a very hot summer afternoon, a second alarm was quickly called and John Whiteside responded for Fire Associates with Fire Support Unit 3. He was met on scene by FASCV past-president John Whitaker who had scouted the area and directed FSU-3 to the rehab location. SJFD's Med 30 had set up a formal rehab area in some vacant carports near the fire's location. The shade provided by the carports was greatly appreciated by the firefighters as ambient temperatures were approaching the 100-degree mark.
First indications were that an unattended gas BBQ was the source of the blaze. The fire spread to the structure and raced almost the length of the building's small attic space. Fire crews worked feverishly to pull ceilings in an effort to chase the flames and extinguish the fire.
Photo By Bruce Dembecki
With the extreme 100-degree heat, Fire Associates member Bruce Dembecki proactively decided to also staff Fire Support Unit 2 and stand by at the structure fire in case an additional need arose.
Fire #2:
But, at 5:00 P.M., before FSU 2 had even left Fire Station 6, a vegetation fire was reported on southbound Hwy. 87. Upon arrival, Engine 1 requested additional resources. Knowing that Med 30 was committed to the structure fire, FSU 2 responded towards the vegetation fire in case the crews needed hydration.
Coming from the north, along Interstate Hwy. 280, FSU 2 came across the blaze blowing flames across the ramps between 280-to-87S and moved into traffic control mode while waiting for the CHP to arrive. Once CHP took over control of the ramp, FSU 2 relocated to Hwy. 87 below the fire and established a re-hydration station.
An additional unit was called to the area around the fire for embers patrol. The fire escalated to a full Tier 1 response before running out of fuel and leaving the fire crews with a long, hot, tiring clean up operation. Water and Gatorade, along with our famous Clif Bars, were quite popular. FSU 2 was released about 2 hours later.
-- Report jointly submitted by John Whitaker and Bruce Dembecki