It didn't take long for February to deliver the first noteworthy event for our city's firefighters, as crews responded to a residential structure fire just after the noon hour on Tuesday, 7 February, at a home in the 1400 block of 24th Street West, literally just 'around the corner' from Fire Station 18. As that day's 'A'-Shift arrived on scene within minutes after dispatch they discovered the two story, single family home built from a mixture of concrete block and wood siding displaying heavy smoke and visible flames from the back of the house. The good news immediately shared on scene with the firefighters was that the only resident in the home at the time, an elderly woman in poor health, had already been removed from the residence by several alert neighbors. After a brief yet thorough assessment by paramedics, the woman was transported in stable condition to an area hospital. The fire itself proved an unworthy adversary for the emergency responders: originating in the area of the back porch, the flames were tamed in less than 15 minutes in spite of the threat of the fire spreading upward to the second floor and along the eaves of the home.
A far greater challenge occurred the very next morning when crews responded to a fire involving a manufactured home with room additions located at 4365 Loys Drive in the Windy Hill section of Jacksonville's southside area. With flames shooting several feet into the early, pre-dawn sky at 4:30 AM, firefighters arriving on scene were relieved to discover that all three occupants in the house had managed to make it out on their own. Having sustained serious injuries during their escape, the two adult men and one adult female were promptly transported to area hospitals for treatment while the combat contingent faced the blaze head-on, concerned with a residential exposure to the immediate south of the fire a mere 15 feet away. With the nearest hydrant well over 2,000 feet in the distance, tankers delivered the much needed ammunition for the operation and, after the expenditure of well over 6,000 gallons of water, the fire was finally called under control some 20-odd minutes after the arrival of the first due Engine Company from Station 28. With the exposure unscathed, the aftermath nonetheless proved to be somewhat of a letdown as the family's pet dog was discovered, deceased, amidst the rubble of the totally destroyed home. Damage estimates were placed just above $100,000 and the investigation revealed the possible cause of the fire to be electrical in nature.
It certainly isn't every day that a motor vehicle accident, of the unfortunate multitudes that do occur in our city with regularity, is truly worth noting in this particular format but on Monday, February 13 at approximately 2:30 PM, a strange and unique element was attached to an accident on the Buckman Bridge. An SUV carrying 4 passengers, among them an infant securely strapped into a car seat, suddenly flipped and rolled over several times ejecting two adult passengers in the process. One of these victims, a female, came to rest on the bridge and would be transported to Orange Park in critical condition. The other ejected passenger, however, became airborne and flew over the bridge's railing, landing some twenty feet below into the St. John's River. Miraculously, he emerged completely unscathed from this ordeal and, assisted by a plumber who stopped his vehicle to render assistance in the form of a ladder, climbed back up to the bridge to give an account of his experience. Truly both remarkable and incredible! He, along with the other two non-ejected passngers from the vehicle, was taken to Shands in stable condition.