It is not very often that an update of a previously mentioned emergency scenario can be provided; however, in the case of the April fire on Kitler Road that claimed the life of an adult male along with two dogs, the State Fire Marshal's Office quickly determined that the fire was indeed arson. As the investigation continues, it should be noted here that anyone with any information concerning the aforementioned fire is urged to contact the State Fire Marshal's Office at (904) 798-5804.
In more uplifting news, the Department has set a date for the official unveiling and ribbon cutting ceremony for new Fire Station#59 - more specifically, 3 June at 11:30 a.m.
While looking at the calendar and realizing that it is, indeed, the month of May, weather conditions seem to belie that observation as dry and windy patterns have created substantial wildfires throughout many areas of south and central Florida. On Monday morning, May 12th, under the responsibilities of our Region Three Strike Team, Jacksonville Fire/Rescue assembled and dispatched a 5 Engine Strike Team along with 2 Brush Trucks and a Chief to respond to a request from Brevard County to provide support in their respective plight. While three of these engines were true frontline apparatus from our Department, the remaining two were comprised of engines and personnel from both McClenny and Baker County. These 18 individuals will join in efforts to suppress the advances of a nearly 1,000 acre blaze raging through that area, a conflagration that has already destroyed both residential and commercial properties. We wish all participants Godspeed and that they may soon return to us safe and sound.
Following the deployment to those devastated areas south of our city, some local units were soon involved in an equally demanding and taxing response; more specifically, a Second Alarm multi-story structure fire to a boarding house located at 447 East 7th Street. The fire, reported just before 4 AM on May 13th, proved especially challenging as an additional duo of two story wood frame exposures rested a mere 4 feet away on each side of the fully involved fire structure. With the crews of Engines 1, 2 and 4 and corresponding ladder companies from 1 and 4 quickly at the scene, Command was able to prevent these exposures from falling victim to the rapidly progressing main fire. The inhabitants of the impacted structure had quite a bit of good fortune on their side, as two kittens managed to awake their owners with noisy purring and frantic behavior; this, in turn, leading to one adult male awakening and hearing a 'popping and crackling sound.' Upon the realization that these sounds could be attributed to a fire that was advancing through the entire structure, the man quickly ran through the rest of the building, pounding on doors and alerting all residents of the danger. Having exited the house through the back, the 5 residents huddled and shivered together in the backyard as tremendous amounts of water, sprayed onto the fire from the engine companies located at the front, continuously poured down onto the 'trapped' occupants in the back: trapped, as any exit from the backyard was blocked by a chain-linked fence. Thankfully that was soon remedied as the residents were discovered, the fence cut open, and the lucky survivors led away from both the burning building and the water-logged confines of the backyard. With the fire finally extinguished, the evaluation of the scene showcased a few noteworthy issues. The 'luck' of the 5 residents couldn't be overemphasized, as all smoke detectors within the building were without batteries, previously removed by someone annoyed by the 'chirping sound.' The house itself was deemed a total loss, but both the eastern and western exposures sustained relativley superficial damage limited to the immediate exterior side adjacent to the actual fire structure. Although no cause or point of origin could be determined at the initial scene, the operation itself can certainly be considered a resounding success: two large and highly flammable exposures in extreme close proximity to the heat source were not only protected, but the objectives were achieved without any injuries to either civilians or firefighters.
Before the week was over, another 2nd Alarm would test the collective skill of the dispatched firefighters as Friday morning, May 16th just after 2 AM, units responded to the report of a 10,000 square foot warehouse fire at 5042 West Beaver Street. Once on scene, units reported thick, heavy, black smoke rolling out of several windows and from underneath a secured metal roll-up bay door at a business called 'Scrap Aluminum Processor.' The initial interior attack was greatly aided by a firewall on the western side of the building, in effect separating the fire structure from another business, this one known as Mary's Imports, a furniture store. Unfortunately, flames soon began to shoot through the roof, resulting in a withdrawal of this aggressive interior strategy and prompting Command to not only call a Second Alarm, but to also direct Ladder 57 to pommel the structure with their ladder pipe. The fire was soon doused and the building saved, but not before a 30 foot section of the wooden roof had collapsed and damages exceeding $50,000 had been tabulated. Investigators at the scene quickly determined that the point of origin was near a breakroom on the south-eastern side of the structure, with an incendiary device of some kind having been lobbed through the window. This arson fire is still being actively investigated by the State Fire Marshal's Office.