Our first 'quasi-threat' within this year's hurricane season quickly (and thankfully) fizzled out, as Tropical Storm Chris began shearing apart during the last week of July/first part of August as it attempted to cross the southwestern Carribbean region. The storm did serve as a reminder that the hurricane season is indeed here, and hopefully everyone utilized this tropical 'nuisance' as an opportunity to re-evaluate personal hurricane response plans.
A sweltering day became even hotter for firefighters on Tuesday, August 8, as units responded to fire in an industrial setting at 715 King St. A furniture packaging outfit had just moved into their new habitat days before, and as workers were grinding sections of wrought iron sparks flew onto the floor, a floor that was apparently covered with flammable patches of dried paint left behind by the previous tenants. Eye witnesses stated that a small explosion of some sort was noted, with the area soon engulfed in smoke, forcing the workers to flee the scene. Upon arrival, firefighters confirmed that heavy smoke was visible throughout the entire structure and command immediately attempted to deploy an aggressive interior attack. With the roof sagging and interior advance greatly hindered by cardboard and furniture stacked from top to bottom, units were forced to temporarily withdraw from their initial objective. With temperatures in the upper 90s combined with the typically extreme humidity levels for this time of the year in Florida, additional manpower was soon called to the extent that eventually over 50 firefighters were assembled at the scene. Following a gradual reimplementation and continuation of the interior attack strategy, the fire was eventually subdued after nearly 90 minutes of laborious and tedious work. Three firefighters were transported to Baptist for minor symptoms of heat exhaustion, but overall the incident proved to be merely another example of Jacksonville's finest meeting obstacles and performing the reconfiguration of same into challenges; challenges that are always met and resolved.
Less than a week after the previously noted 'quasi' second alarm, firefighters were once again called to action for yet another multiple alarm fire, this time in Springfield almost at the intersection of 9th and Main streets. A two-story, wood frame single family structure was literally 'glowing bright orange on all four sides,' as one responder from Engine 2 indicated upon arrival at the scene shortly after 4 in the morning. Although the house was unoccupied due to ongoing restoration work, another two story wood frame dwelling, less than six feet from the fully involved structure, was occupied and severely threatened by the raging fire. For that matter, steam was easily observed lifting off the face of this western exposure, with windows shattering under the immense heat. Command called a second alarm virtually upon arrival, and the firefighters performed admirably in not only securing the aforementioned exposure and other similarly threatened elements from more serious damage, but by also extinguishing the fire in less than 20 minutes. Unfortunately, as is often the case, the fire still managed to create significant damage and the overall loss was estimated to be well in excess of $200,000.
Last, but certainly not least, it figures that the month would 'end' in the same fashion as it began, with another tropical storm threatening our fair city. Ernesto proved to be the little storm that 'wanted to,' as Jacksonville witnessed excessive but also much needed rain as the storm quickly passed through. Our neighbors to the north, especially in the coastal Carolina region, were not so lucky; as the storm intensified yet again, it provided significant down-pours leading to flooding and similar problems for many communities. Although August has been friendly on the storm front, September still remains the most active month for storms by far for the First Coast. Hopefully that will not be the case next month.