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Now that was weird...

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  • #16
    House has a full basement, partially finished. 1st / 2nd due teamed up to get a line in operation through the bulkhead door.

    Oil heat, 275gallon tank in the basement although the Fire Marshal confirmed it did not fail.

    Oily, sooty windows are from smoke condensating on the windows -- fire was definitely in the "decay" stage after having been burning for 5+ hours before the 911 call (typical 1/4 acre lot suburban area...right on a main road, so no reason for people to have not seen smoke earlier...just a fairly slow burning fire in a tight house).

    Like some of the guys above indicated, still kind of hairy to use PPV since there was a lot of heat, and we didn't have a good handle on where the fire, if any, was remaining. Knew there had been some flames on two levels (basement & first) which had been knocked down. Remember the house had been stewing for hours, so it was pretty warm everywhere.

    Crews wanted to start aggressively opening up the walls and ceiling, but couldn't see. And the floor was spongy in one spot (the area of origin) so they were moving carefully on the first floor.

    So like some of the posters above, crew went to the roof. Notice the smoke from the ridge vent doesn't look that menancing at all...

    Edited to add credit for this photo to Josh Maloney...I'll post his website later but I don't want any cheaters for now
    Last edited by Dalmatian190; 02-20-2007, 12:51 PM.


    • #17
      i like this method of presenting the scenario dal, ill just keep quiet since i already know the story.
      Rescue 1



      • #18
        Oh heck, the oil tank reminded me. I remember it now so I'll quit playing too.


        • #19
          Is this what I read about a few years ago, that someone referred to as the "white ghost". An oil burner problem, gives off a ton of heat but looks very unassuming. The oil is atomizing in the fire box but not igniting. When it finds an ignition, it can cause a large explosion and fire. Maybe the reason for the hole in the floor.
          Northeast Fire Photos


          • #20
            Nope, wasn't a White Ghost. I do wonder if any fuel oil may have evaporated and added to the fuel load just from stewing in a basement which was likely above the flash point of home heating oil for a few hours, but it doesn't seem that it was a primary part of the problem.

            Irregardless, you certainly had other petroleum-based furnishings producing flammable gases as they decomposed, as well as plain old fashion CO from petroleum and wood based fuels.

            I'll post the pic where it gets interesting tonite


            • #21
              So like some of the posters above, crew went to the roof. Notice the smoke from the ridge vent doesn't look that menancing at all...

              Based on this, I'm going to guess that there was fire, or at least a lot of smoldering in the attic. You probably got a surprise when you opened it up and let in all of the oxygen.


              • #22
                I'm not going to try and figure out why it is smoking, but I would use a thermal imaging camera to search for the fire or heat source. If it is below freezing the smoke will be white, I dont know alot from just a couple pics. But I would use a camera or at least feel the walls with my hand for heat then open up. You can find fire in walls without being able to see. If there is no fire in the walls go into the basement with the camera and find the heat source. Go from there.

                If you have opened the windows and it isnt ventilating it is probably producing more smoke, so find the heat source and fix the problem and that will stop the smoke.


                • #23
                  Now remember, all we've seen is white smoke, maybe a bit of brown -- typical wood stuff. Lots of steam. And that's holding true what's coming out the windows, eaves, gable vent, and ridge vents. Nothing ominous...

                  Below is just after they opened the vent hole, they rolled the cut open and out came the smoke -- the guy running the saw said he had a real hard time finding the ladder to get back off the roof.

                  This photo (also by Josh Maloney) was taken from the "D" side -- Any impressions of what you can see -- not only of the smoke, but the house on this side, too.

                  Oh...the guys inside knew right away -- they just watched the smoke just lift right up and out of the first floor and gave them good visibility for the first time. The attic stair scuttle had been opened, and I wouldn't be surprised if there had been some additional pulled ceiling areas.

                  More to come

                  Last edited by Dalmatian190; 02-20-2007, 06:42 PM.


                  • #24
                    ruh roh!...
                    Attached Files
                    You only have to be stupid once to be dead permanently
                    IACOJ Power Company Liason
                    When trouble arises and things look bad, there is always one individual who perceives a solution
                    and is willing to take command. Very often, that individual is crazy. - Dave Barry.


                    • #25
                      Guess ya didn't need the Positive Pressure Ventilation to start finding the source! Seems regular ole vertical ventilation did it.

                      Obviously, a rat ate through the wiring in one of the can lights in the ceiling causing a short that slowly ate through the blown in cellulose insulation. Or maybe not.


                      • #26
                        Originally posted by ElectricHoser View Post
                        ruh roh!...
                        Does that cat have one ear on purpose??
                        These opinions are mine and do not reflect the opinions of any organizations I am affiliated with.


                        • #27
                          Is that a relative of Kiwi's cat from the infamous yates thread??


                          • #28
                            Originally posted by thefish View Post
                            slowly ate through the blown in cellulose insulation. Or maybe not.
                            oohhhh... this sounds good... but i am betting it may have been something else.. is there a possibility that the chimney may have had something to do with the source of the fire? maybe radiant heat ignited some blown in insulation.



                            • #29
                              At this point, stuff started to happen very fast.

                              Actually, several odd things happened, and even somethings you hear in FF-I and while you can't always avoid it, and sometimes it's just not practical to avoid it, the Gods of Firefighting line up and decree that some days you're just gonna make a parking lot and there's nothing you can do about it but tuck the lessons away.

                              As I put in the last photo...our guys on the first floor from "A" side knew right away the roof was vented -- the smoke lifted.

                              It was immediately followed by a trail of flame coming from the area of origin (basement, in the joists for the first floor, near the D side), across the ceiling, up the hole in the ceiling, and out the vent. Remember that wood and other fuels had been turning into hot charcoal all afternoon...

                              That was knocked down quickly, although I'm not sure what conditions in the basement were like.

                              Our guys thought they were making progress on the attic fire, but it was going slow as the floor was spongy by the C/D corner so they couldn't just hike over and yank the ceiling but try to work it from the edge.

                              Josh credited this photo as being taken shortly before the evacuation was sounded for the building with the companies at the rear who had been operating in the basement -- see the bulkhead on the right of the photo -- regrouping because of the fire behavior they were seeing.

                              This is under the awning shown in the last couple pics. Looks like they're sizing up if there's anything they can do (I know the nozzle bail looks open...but sure doesn't look like he's flowing...) from that point to get in.

                              Note the window being vented.

                              The real significance of this didn't hit me until a couple days later I'm out for a walk that time of day. And just as the sun went down, for a couple minutes a real strong gusty wind kicked up -- pretty much the conditions all week...

                              Now the bulkhead, rear door, and at least some windows catching the wind from the west. And right as the roof was vented was the time of day the wind changed from a breeze to outright gusts.

                              I think that was another factor -- fresh air pushing in the bulkhead and back door, across the first floor, and up and out the attic.
                              Last edited by Dalmatian190; 02-20-2007, 09:22 PM.


                              • #30
                                Through all of this, a lot of attention was paid to the basement. Did anyone check the attic while this was going on in the basement?? From what I'm seeing and reading, the first sign anyone found of trouble in the attic was after the hole was cut in the roof.

                                Me personally, I would have had a crew check the attic from the hatch (or pull down stairs, or staircase, or whatever) very soon after arriving and knocking down the basement fire.

                                Oh yea, and when I got my hands on the neighbor, I would ring his neck.
                                Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.


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