Last night, around 10:30; crews were dispatched to a 3 story apartment complex for a reported fire. Engine Company #3 (C-Shift) along with Medic 3 arrived to find heavy fire and smoke from a 1st floor window. (*Note* The Fire Critic, Lt Rhett Fleitz is assigned to Station #3 on A-Shift)
Very quickly, Captain Robert Perdue’s attention was focused on multiple people hanging from smoke filled windows on the 3rd floor. The center hallway entrance (and access to the upper floors) was heavily involved in fire so the Engine Captain instructed his company to throw ground ladders.
Engine #2 arrived to grab a hydrant and establish command. Ladder 2, County Wagon 1, Ladder 5 and Battalion 2 were not far behind. The priority on the scene was obviously LIFE SAFETY and the incident was escalated to a 2nd alarm.
Members on scene were “making grabs” (rescuing residents from the windows) and positioning to extinguish the blaze before the wind took total control of the fire and engulfed the building.
It sounded like poetry in motion with Captains Perdue, Graham and Stone on the radio instructing the members. It was controlled chaos!
Engine #13 and Medic 1 were dispatched as the “working fire” companies. We arrived just as it was all happening and were assigned R.I.C (Rapid Intervention Crew).
Our attention was directed to a male subject hanging from a 3rd floor window on the alpha / bravo corner of the building. Bystanders were pleading with him NOT to jump but he had “that” look in his eyes. Smoke and heat were exiting the building through the same window he had chosen.
Firefighter/EMT J. Gish was approaching with a ladder. Along with Captain L. Thompson and my firefighter (Jerry Thompson), the ladder was thrown and extended to the trapped occupant.
As soon as it was in place, I made the climb. I reached the occupant to find that Ladder Company #2 (1st Lt. Croft and FF/Medic Mone) had worked past the fire to reach the same occupant. The victim had taken all he wanted of the conditions inside and was NOT going to go back inside that window / room.
We got him onto the ladder, calmed him and assisted him to the ground. You can watch video of that rescue in the link below…
By this time, companies had water on the fire and all other occupants safely out of the structure. Salvage and Overhaul operations soon began. A nearby laundry room was used to shelter and triage the 30+ occupants.
In the end, 34 residents were displaced. There were 5 rescues made (2 reported as critical), 3 of which were transported to a local hospital. There were 2 apartments damaged by fire with another 10 sustaining smoke and/or water damages. The Red Cross was on hand to assist.
The Roanoke Fire / EMS Department runs with 3 members on an Engine and 3 on a Ladder (this includes the Chauffeur and Officer). This fire is just another example of their members doing extraordinary things under the worst of circumstances.
“WELL DONE” to all who responded!
Stay SAFE and in House!