Thursday, July 26, 2012

3-Alarm Fire Hits 3 Cupertino Residences


Photo By Bruce Dembecki
(You can click on these photos for larger versions)
Shortly after 3:30 P.M. on Thursday July 26, Santa Clara County Fire Department received reports of a stove fire at 10510 N. Stelling Rd, Cupertino. Responding units reported smoke showing from 2 miles away and the incident was upgraded to a full first alarm.
Once on scene, units reported that a shed at the back of a house was fully involved, and that exposures on several sides were being affected by fire. It was upgraded quickly over the next 5 minutes to a second and then third alarm.
It was later determined that one of the residents of the house liked to cook fish in the shed, and had turned on the stove and apparently placed a piece of wood on the stove, before returning to the house. Several minutes later the resident returned to find the shed engulfed in flames. The shed was close to three houses and all three suffered significant fire damage, and left uninhabitable at the end of the day, displacing many people from the three houses.
Fire Associates member Bruce Dembecki was doing routine maintenance on Fire Support Unit 2 and had just picked up a load of ice for the freezers and was on Hwy 280. While Cupertino is normally in the Fire Support Unit 1 response area, after a brief discussion with the FASCV North County team, it was quickly agreed since Bruce was already out, and FSU 2 was loaded, it should respond to this incident. Bruce arrived to set up Rehab and was met on scene by Jerry Haag, George Hoyt and Ron Green, and later on FASCV guest Walter Huber dropped by to lend a hand.
Photo By Bruce Dembecki
It was the warm part of a summer afternoon and firefighters were working hard on 3 different houses, they were hot and thirsty. Over the next 5 hours, firefighters from County Fire and San Jose Fire (on scene providing Mutual Aid) consumed all 5 cases of Gatorade on FSU 2, and all but one case of bottled water, along with 5 gallons of lemonade. Everyone was glad Fire Associates was on scene!
The shed was destroyed, but the three houses, while uninhabitable, are repairable and no-one was hurt. Another great performance from local fire crews kept the damage to a minimum. Fire Support Unit 2 was back in quarters in San Jose by 8:30 P.M.
-- Report Submitted By Bruce Dembecki

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

FASCV Responds to Sunnyvale House Fire

Date: July 24, 1400 Hrs
Type: 1st alarm
Address: 880 Humewick at Mallard, Sunnyvale
Response: Sunnyvale E1, E2, E3, E4, E40, R2, and T2, IC - Lt. Vierra, - Batt. 3 (Capt. Chetcuti)
This fire was at a split-level, single-family dwelling with fire in a detached shed in the rear yard. The fire progressed into a 1st floor bedroom and then into attic via the eaves.
As it happens, the first-due companies (E4 and E40) were out on medical incidents, therefore Station 2 (E2, R2, and T2) were the first units on scene. A quick knockdown of the shed fire and aggressive attack limited damage to the shed, 1 bedroom and the attic above.
FASCV released at 1550 Hrs. 
FASCV Responders: Ron Green, Bob Gundrum (driver FSU 1) and George Hoyt.
-- Report Submitted by Bob Gundrum

Monday, July 23, 2012

Brush Fire Causes Coordinated Attack from San Jose, Santa Clara County and Cal Fire

Photo By Bruce Dembecki
At around 3:00 P.M. on Monday, July 23, Santa Clara County Fire Department began receiving reports of a brush fire in Belgatos Park at the top of Belgatos Rd. in Los Gatos.

First-due engine to the area is San Jose's Engine 17, who reported a heavy column of smoke from the area, and with the area being in a threat zone additional resources were requested from Cal Fire. On scene units reported 2-3 acres of grass and brush had burned and began work to stop the fire's uphill progress before it could threaten the houses on the hillside above the park.
Incident Commander, County Fire Battalion Chief Joe Parker, requested a Level 2 Brush response from County Fire together with the Medium response from Cal Fire. Cal Fire's Air units arrived and with some quick drops from Copter 106 were able to stop the forward spread of the fire. Additional resources included several Cal Fire Type 3 engines and a Cal Fire hand crew from Ben Lomond.
Fire Associates members were dispatched to the scene as part of the Level 2 Brush response, and Don Gilbert fetched Fire Support Unit 2. When he afrrived at the scene, he was met by FASCV members Bruce Dembecki and George Hoyt, along with FASCV guest, Walter Huber. Cold drinks and CLIF bars were the order of the day on a hot afternoon in Belgatos Park. Fire Associates took over a picnic area in the park and were able to establish rehab in a very comfortable and cool, shady area.
The fire was contained by 4:30 P.M. and mop up was completed shortly before 6:00 P.M., when Fire Support Unit 2 was released from the scene.
-- Report Submitted by Bruce Dembecki


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Apartment Blaze Results in San Jose Fire's Largest Response of the Year

Photos By Craig Allyn Rose

Date: Sunday, July 22, 2012, 9:34 P.M.
Type:  Apartment Fire
Size:   4-Alarm
Jurisdiction:  San Jose Fire  Department
Location:  Del Coronado Apartments at 5281 Camden Ave.
A cool summer evening was interupted with the fire radios crackling with the report of an apartment fire on Camden Ave. in the southwest portion of San Jose. Responding engine companies reported a large column of smoke visible en route and a second and third alarms were quickly called.

An list of the fire units eventually called to the scene included:
  • San Jose Fire:  Chiefs 2A and 3A; Batt. B1, B10, B13 and B29; E6, E10, E12, E13, E14, E17, E18, E22 and E28; T9, T13, T14 and T335; SQ18 and SQ26; P1 and P28; WT13 and WT18; AU30 and Med30.
  • Santa Clara County Fire:  E6 and T5
  • Santa Clara City Fire:  E4 and T2
The large amount of equipment on scene was partially the result of the fire's location. The apartment complex was located behind the Avanti Shopping Center with access through a narrow alleyway between stores. Access was also possible from Merrill Ave., a narrow side street to the facility. Also increasing the intensity of the flames was a stiff wind fanning the flames once they broke through the roof.

A formal Rehab area was set up in the Avanti parking lot. FSU 2 was set up in the rehab area with FSU 3 standing by on scene in case extra supplies were needed. Also in rehab was Med 30 and 3 Rural-Metro EMS units. Things got very busy in rehab as all crews on scene eventually made their way to the location for rest and rehydration. The rehab operation was disbanded shortly before midnight.

Responding FASCV members: Bruce Dembecki (driver - FSU 2), John Whiteside (driver - FSU 3), Don Gilbert, Jerry Haag, John Whitaker, George Hoyt, Mike Chappell and guest Walter Huber.
Responding FASCV units: FSU 2 and FSU 3

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Lumberyard Inferno Results In Large Response

Photo By Craig Allyn Rose
It was a sleepy, early Saturday morning on July 14 when the text messagers read: "CAL FIRE – MULTI ALARM STRUCTURE FIRE, MONTERY ROAD & BLANCHARD SOUTH SAN JOSE. THIS IS A LUMBER YARD AND OTHER STRUCTURES INVOLVED." That got everyone wide awake! The report of a lumber fire usually does that.
Don Gilbert responded to the 6:38 A.M. call on July 14 and went to Station 35 to get Fire Support Unit 3. Meanwhile, Bruce Dembecki, John Whitaker and Mike Chappell went directly to the scene. Located at 8149 Monterey Rd. in the community of Coyote, the fire was burning at the Padula Lumber Company. Other FASCV members who arrived later were George Hoyt and John Whiteside.
The original call had the fire as a San Jose Fire event. However, the fire scene was approximately 300 yards south of Blanchard Rd. which put the event in South County Fire District's jurisdiction. The net result was, there were fire rigs and batallion chiefs from San Jose, South County and Cal Fire all on scene.
Photo By John Whitaker
Despite a lack of fire hydrants in the area, firefighters did an excellent job confining the blaze to a small shed and some surrounding wood piles. Although not a lumberyard in the conventional sense, with stacks of 2x4s and milled lumber, there was a small sawmill on site along with stacks of small wood logs, wooden crates, and miscellaneous wood furnishings in different stages on construction. The fire definitely had the potential for spreading as a strong breeze was blowing through the narrow valley from the south. A 3,000-gal. canvas water tank was deployed as a water supply, with a South County engine drafting out of that. Actively refilling the tank, or standing by in case needed, were 2 water tenders fron San Jose Fire, 2 water tenders from South County and a water tender from Gilroy Fire.
Fire crews were glad to have pots of hot coffee and donuts available in rehab as the morning was cool and overcast. Cold Gatorade and water were consumed and Clif Bars were also available.
  • A San Jose Mercury News story can be read at:  Lumberyard Fire
  • John Whitaker's photos can be viewed at:  Coyote Lumber Fire
  • Craig Allyn Rose's photos are at:  Monterey Rd. Fire
  • Bruce Dembecki's photos can be seen at:  Lumberyard Inferno

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

San Jose House Fire Goes to Three Alarms

Date and Time: July 11, 2012, 0542 hours
Agency: San Jose Fire
Incident Address: 1041 Andrea Dr., San Jose
Type: Third Alarm
Details: Single-family, two-story frame dwelling.
FASCV Responding Unit: FSU-1. Arrived: 0635; Released: 0815 hours.
FASCV Responders: Jerry Haag (Driver).
  •  For a more-detailed repot, a San Jose Mercury News story can be read at:  Kitchen Oil Fire
-- Report Submitted by Jerry Haag

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tier III Wildland Fire in San Jose’s Kelley Park

Photo By Bruce Dembecki
Shortly after 9:00 P.M. on  July 10, San Jose Fire dispatched crews to multiple vegetation fires within Kelley Park. The area was along the creek bed and open fields located at the east end of Phelan Avenue off Senter Road.
As the fire progressed, with additional alarm levels, John Whiteside went to SJ Station 35 to await an anticipated FASCV dispatch. After hearing the dispatch level go to a Tier III, the usual trigger for Fire Associates, and still no page, John contacted SJ Fire Dispatch to inquire if Fire Associates was to be dispatched. The answer was "Yes", so John notified Sonitrol, our answering service, to page the members. He departed Station 35 with Fire Support Unit 3 at 9:45 P.M. for the short drive to the fires.
Photo By Bruce Dembecki
FASCV members Bruce Dembecki and Ron Green (with wife, Barbara) were waiting in Staging and helped John set up. Mike Chappell and guest Walter Huber arrived to assist. Firefighters enjoyed cool water, Gatorade, CLIF bars and our benches for a short rehab. Area lighting was also provided. Quick work was made on the fire using Brush Patrols for mobile attack and engine crews using hand tools. FSU 3 was released about 11:30 P.M. and returned to Station 35.
There had been another grass fire in the same area several hours earlier, as well as the day before.
-- Report Submitted By John Whitedside

Santa Clara County Fire Responds to House Blaze

Date and Time: July 10, 2012, 0200 hours
Agency: Santa Clara County Fire
Incident Address: 19502 Via Monte Dr., Saratoga
Type: Full First Alarm
Details: Single-family ranch-style dwelling, unoccupied. Roofing job in progress. Extensively involved in fire upon arrival of Engine 9. Roofing materials on roof were a point loading that prompted IC to order defensive operations early. Engine 9 was fire attack and ended up supplying six lines, including three 2-1/2", two 1-3/4" and a 5" to Truck 5 which operated a ladder pipe briefly to gain initial knockdown of the roof fire. Haag on voluntary response provided one case of water at Rehab.
Agency Responders:
CNT: E-8, 9, 17, 305; T-5; R-17; BS-2; HM-2; Batt- 2, 3, 14; IC-Miller.
FASCV Responding Unit: None (Haag in POV). Arrived: 0235, released: 0400 hours.
FASCV Responders: Jerry Haag.
-- Report Submitted By Jerry Haag

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Hazmat Call Prompts FASCV Response to San Jose

Photo by Bruce Dembecki
On Monday, July 2, San Jose Environmental Services employees were conducting routine maintenance of sewer lines and storm water tunnels. During this maintenance inspection, they discovered one of the pipelines appeared to be contaminated with an oily residue and was giving off a petroleum-like odor. They called the San Jose Fire Department at 12:48 P.M. and dispatchers sent Engine 26 to 2967 Daylight Way to check out the situation.
Engine 26 declared it a hazmat incident and additional resources were dispatched to assist on the scene. With Truck/HIT 29 out of service, a call was made to Santa Clara County Fire for their hazmat unit and, shortly thereafter, County Hazmat 2 and Engine 9 were on their way. Additional San Jose Units were called on to assist evacuating several nearby businesses with concerns mounting over a possible explosion in the pipelines. USAR 34 and the USAR task force was also dispatched to provide a tripod should it be necessary for anyone to descend into the manhole.
Photo by Bruce Dembecki
While plans were being made, the IC made a request for Med 30 to provide hydration for the crews. However, Med 30 was already committed on a call elsewhere in city, so Fire Associates was dispatched around 2:10 P.M. Bruce Dembecki was on scene with Fire Support Unit 2 by 2:30 P.M. and was joined on scene by Fire Associates members John Whitaker and George Hoyt. Shortly after 3:0 P.M., the County Hazmat crew declared the area safe and units were gradually allowed to pick up and stop by Fire Support Unit 2 for some cold lemonade or water before returning to service. FSU was back in quarters at approximately 4:00 P.M.
-- Report submitted by Bruce Dembecki

Monday, July 2, 2012


The Fire Associates news blog just went over 100,000 visitors!

That's an average of more than 1,500 visitors each month over the 5 1/2 years of the blog's existance.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Tier II Grass Fire Burns on Communications Hill

Photo by Juan Diaz
On Sunday, July, 1 shortly after 5:00 P.M., the San Jose Fire Department received reports of a football field-size brush fire on the Highway 87 side of Communications Hill, in south San Jose. San Jose dispatched a Tier I with arriving units staging at Canoas Garden Avenue and Sands Drive, awaiting proper access determination.
Enroute, B13 Juan Diaz called a Tier II due to structures being threatened, and requested Fire Associates to the scene - FASCV being dispatched at 5:15 P.M. John Whiteside, on hearing the initial dispatch sent to the south side of Communications Hill, began starting toward SJ Station 35 to drive FSU 3. He called Don Gilbert, who was just starting out to SJ Station 6 to drive FSU 2. Due to the fire location, it was decided two FSUs might be needed.
Photo by Juan Diaz
John and Don departed the stations about 5:17 P.M. and arrived at staging a few minutes later. The FSUs were directed to drive up Carol Drive to the top of Communications Hill. John was assigned to cover the crews working just below the crest of the hill while Don set up in the parking lot next to County Communications. The temperature was in the low 80s with wind. So, lemonade, CLIF bars, bottled water and Gatorade were provided. The FSUs were released about 7:00 P.M. and returned to their home stations.
A couple of acres burned in a flat area on the southwest side near the top of the hill along Carol Drive. The location provided a clear, fantastic view of the Santa Clara Valley!
-- Report Submitted by John Whiteside