Wednesday, July 30, 2014

San Jose Calls 5th Alarm As Multiple Houses Burn

Photo By Craig Allyn Rose
Shortly before 11:30 A.M. on Wednesday, July 30, San Jose Fire dispatchers received reports of a fence and tree fire at 4325 Hampshire Place in San Jose's Thousand Oaks neighborhood. Before the first units arrived, reports indicated that the fire had spread to the adjacent house. Engine 28, responding from nearby Fire Station 13, arrived in only a couple of minutes and reported that the home at 4328 Hampshire Place was engulfed in fire, and fire was spreading to the adjoining home on the Bravo side. Engine 28 quickly declared the original home a defensive fire and directed incoming crews to work offensively on the Bravo 1 exposure.
With the situation clearly worsening, Battalion 29, responding from downtown, called for a second alarm. After arriving on scene and assuming the IC, Battalion 29 called for a 3rd alarm at 11:39 A.M., a 4th alarm at 11:54 A.M., and a 5th alarm at 12:11 A.M. 4th alarm units came from mutual aid, including Santa Clara County Fire and Santa Clara City Fire, while additional mutual units were requested for station coverage in San Jose.
Crews were working on saving the Bravo 1 exposure and dealing with threats to the Delta exposure. The temperature was in the upper 80s and crews were working hard to stop the fire from spreading. Many of the homes in the neighborhood still have shake shingle roofs, which caused more concern for firefighters.
With the 3rd alarm request, Fire Associates members were paged to the scene. John Whiteside responded with Fire Support Unit 3, and he was met on scene by FASCV members Bruce Dembecki and Mike Garcia. The high heat of the day meant that re-hydration and rehab became an important part of the operation. FSU-3 went through all the ice it could carry in less than an hour, and Mike made a run to the store for additional ice. Misting fans were set up as crews were put through formal rehab. FSU-3's supplies of Gatorade and bottled water were taxed, and additional supplies were brought in from Station 30. With an extended operation involving many fire crews, Fire Associates team members organized and served 70 meals for crews to get them through the hot summer afternoon.
By the end of the afternoon, the original house was destroyed, but crews had managed to save the Bravo 1 exposure - although it was heavily damaged. Most impressively, fire crews had prevented the fire from spreading to the Delta exposure and protected the rest of the neighborhood. There were no injuries as a result of the blaze.
  • Photos by Craig Allyn Rose can be viewed at:  Houses Burn
-- Report submitted by Bruce Dembecki