Perhaps the lack of cold weather, as Jacksonville encounters daily highs approaching the upper seventies, has led to a paucity of residential structure fires so far in the month of January. Whatever the reason, the first few weeks of the new year have not delivered any truly memorable, newsworthy or significant incidents within the aforementioned arena: that's certainly a good thing. Case in point: Friday the 11th of January and just after 2:30 in the afternoon, units were summoned to a report of a residential fire on Canal Street but, here too, damages were relatively minor and no injuries were reported from the scene of what appeared to be a routine example of a cooking fire. The incident was called under control in less than ten minutes with the Red Cross called out to provide assistance for two adults.
Perhaps a bit more newsworthy but otherwise relatively benign was a structure fire early Friday morning, January 18th. As responders approached an apartment complex located in the 2000 block of Niblick Drive just after 6 AM, they were greeted by heavy smoke and fire at the 14 unit, two-story concrete block building. The blaze provided very little resistance to the efforts of the firefighters and, as such, the incident was called under control after nearly twenty minutes of active operations. Considering both the circumstances and the outcome, with no injuries reported from the scene, the incident would appear to be completely lacking any dramatic value save for one particular component: the fire was evaluated as 'suspicious' as the apartment units in question were vacant due to ongoing renovations. The State Fire Marshal's Office was summoned to perform the investigation.
Perhaps the Brush Fire season has now officially been launched for the new year of 2013: the equivalent of a Second Alarm assignment was assembled near Crystal Springs on our city's westside to combat a nearly ten acre blaze that came perilously close to severely scorching a nearby residential area. As the first arriving units descended upon the 300 block of Purcell Drive just after 4 PM on Wednesday, 30 January, flames and smoke were clearly visible along a grassy stretch of land located behind the houses lining this cul-de-sac. A shed and sections of a wooden privacy fence were being consumed by the encroaching flames, whipped into a frenzy by strong wind gusts that propelled the fire to within 15 feet of a few houses. Located as the incident was, wedged underneath power lines directly between I-10 to the immediate north and Crystal Springs to the south, the added threat of smoke wafting toward the interstate and impacting traffic lent an even greater sense of urgency to the operation. In less than an hour, however, the main body of the fire had not only been suppressed by the large contingent of resources at the scene but had also been completely surrounded to negate the possibility for the flames to advance any further. Natural topographical fire breaks such as ponds did lend a helping hand in the overall effort; the efficacy of same becoming quite apparent as not one single residential structure sustained any damage.