Monday, November 4 and just after 4 PM, firefighters were exposed to one of the most pernicious and deadly scenarios occasionally encountered at a structure fire: the notorious 'backdraft.' It happened while fighting what initially appeared to be a routine fire, as moderate smoke was reported at a fast-food KFC stand alone restaurant on University Boulevard South. First arriving confirmed that smoke could be seen swirling about several vents along the roof, with all patrons and employees already outside the building. As an initial interior assignment of six firefighters set about their tasks, firefighters along the front exterior began cutting into the facade just above the entrance doors and near the 'Colonel Sanders' sign in an attempt to expose the fire. Unbeknown to these responders, the fire was trapped in a small attic space directly behind the wall and the sudden infusion of oxygen into the area resulted in a violent backdraft explosion: so dynamic and powerful that it knocked the firefighters inside the restaurant to the ground while destroying all of the front windows as well. In fact, the force of the explosive backdraft propelled the glass outward whereby shards and assorted debris scattered up to nearly 100 feet from the restaurant and through the parking lot into the street. Fortunately no one was injured in the process, and firefighters were able to promptly turn their attention back to suppression objectives. The incident was called under control without any further moments of drama after nearly 50 minutes, with one restaurant employee transported to the hospital right across the street having sustained only minor injuries. The State Fire Marshal's Office was summoned to the scene to determine the cause of the fire, with damage estimates yet to be determined.
Tragedy struck a rural neighborhood off Pritchard Road late Thursday evening, 7 November, when a house fire in the 4700 block of West Cisco Drive claimed the life of an adult female. When firefighters arrived on scene at approximately 11:30 that evening they discovered flames shooting above the kitchen area of the brick house. Although the fire was quickly contained, emergency responders would sadly discover the lifeless body of the woman, alone in the house at the time of the fire, in one of the bedrooms located in the back of the house. The subsequent investigation is expected to reveal whether or not a working smoke detector existed at the time of the blaze.
Although firefighters responding to a structure fire in District 35 on Thursday, 21 November, could not prevent $85,000 worth of damages to the 2 story property, they did successfully save an important and integral part of the family residing there: the dog. As fire and heavy smoke engulfed the rear of the second floor, the arriving crews were quickly informed by the homeowners that everyone had made it out safely with the exception of the pet canine named 'Romeo.' Without hesitation, crews entered into the house located at 8521 New Kings Road and soon located the fluffy dog, reuniting man's best friend with the appreciative family. The fire was brought under control in just under thirty minutes, flames stubbornly lodged along the back roof-line near the eaves and requiring an immensely focused, concentrated effort by the firefighters as heavy smoke swirled about them throughout the operation. The point of origin and cause were soon identified: a space heater in too close of proximity with combustible products serving as the culprit. No injuries were reported from the scene.
Another incident without a report of injuries but burdened by a significant amount of property damage occurred just after 10 AM on Monday, 25 November, in the 6700 block of Ramona Boulevard at the Victory Pointe apartment complex. Firefighters arriving at the scene observed swirling smoke and some visible fire directly underneath the roofline on the western-most section of the two story building: a structure comprised of 6 individual 3 bedroom apartments, all occupied. Thankfully all occupants had already exited the building and were completely accounted for before firefighters made entry into the general area of origin. Although strong winds threatened to facilitate a spread of the fire through the common attic area all the way to the other end of the building, the emergency responders soon had a firm grip on the incident and were able to successfully bring the situation under control in just over an hour. The 2nd Alarm assignment present on the fire-ground now had to perform an arduous overhaul to address all hot spot activity, with the finality of the operation the realization that each of the apartments had been rendered uninhabitable through a combination of fire, smoke and water damage. The resulting displacement of 6 adults and 15 children would lead to the arrival of the Red Cross to provide support, while the State Fire Marshal's Office gave their rendition of support during the investigative process. In no time at all a determination of an accidental cause for the fire was made official: a hot iron inadvertently placed on a bed. Damage estimates were also made available to the tune of $1 million.