News coverage can be found here and here (the second article has a good aerial shot showing which homes were lost).
The pre-arrival video above is from a kid who lives in the neighborhood in Chesapeake, Virginia where five single-family homes were destroyed by a fire on April 12. This video and Part Two, at the bottom of this page, were posted yesterday to YouTube.
The clip in the center is another neighbor’s early video shot just after the arrival of the first engine and truck in the 600 block of Sweet Leaf Place.
While I have gone through a lot, but not all of the coverage, what I couldn’t find was any real outrage that five homes were lost just like that. Except for one article, there was no mention that the construction of the houses may have been a contributing factor in such a loss.
I know it was a windy day, but I don’t recall seeing many fires like this one 35-years-ago. Now they seem to happen all of the time in similarly built neighborhoods. In fact I’ve seen quite a few all over the Commonwealth of Virginia. Funny how you don’t see this happen in the older neighborhoods that were built before lightweight construction.
But what am I saying? I am so sorry for even bringing that up. Clearly I am being unpatriotic (once again). Let me explain.
According to the people who build these homes, when you look at these videos, what you really are looking at is the cost of freedom. It’s a sacrifice these homeowners made so you and I can live free.
If the government required residential sprinklers, better home separation and fire barriers on the outside wall assemblies, that would be un-American. Remember, it should be every homeowners right to have a fire start in their home and then spread to their neighbor’s homes two and three doors away. It’s right up there with mom and apple pie.
I think the home builders lobbyists in Washington and their affiliates all over this great land should start putting up American flags in front of the shells of houses that were lost like these as a way to remind us of this important freedom they hold so dear. Don’t forget, the home builders are fighting hard for you and me and especially the nation’s firefighters.
The building lobby, after losing the battle for one of our freedoms four decades ago, when smoke alarms were added to the code said, “Never again”. And they have fought valiantly and bravely to protect us ever since. We know they know what’s best for us.
So, from the reaction to this fire, I guess, the indoctrination is complete. We now just accept disposable homes as a way of life. Silly me. What was there really to be outraged about? What was I thinking?
A year ago this past Monday 10 Southern Maryland firefighters were injured during a house fire in Calvert County. Four received significant burns. The fire was in a large home at 3380 Soper Road in Huntingtown. Calvert County firefighters were joined by firefighters from Prince George’s County, Anne Arundel County and Charles County.
On Thursday, Chief Jonathan Riffe of the Huntingtown VFD released the report looking into the events of that fire.
A young kid with a camera captured this video as firefighters in Loudoun County, Virginia pulled up to the scene of two closely built single family homes of lightweight construction burning on Saturday just before 5:00 PM. Three firefighters received minor injuries. Two other homes were damaged. The news reports don’t say, but I am imagine from melted siding.
I know this is nothing new to any of you who fight fires in suburbia (and it isn’t new to me), but how sad is it that there is such a large fire loss from a daytime fire. We can thank the great “progress” our nation’s home builders have made with construction techniques over the last 30 years for outcomes like this one. Scenes repeated all over the country every day. Disposable homes thanks to political leaders who choose the big money over protecting the people who elected them (yes I know, what a shock!).
Owning your own detached single family home used to mean, short of an explosion, you really didn’t have to worry about the fire safety of your neighbors. As I know many of you will tell me, this isn’t bad. They are lucky three or four homes weren’t cooking when firefighters arrived on Saturday. Maybe because these homes aren’t built quite as close to one another as other developments.
Folks in South Riding and all of the South Ridings across the country should be outraged. They should demand their political leaders say no to the home builders and stop them from building homes like this unless they include residential sprinklers. Of course that isn’t going to happen.
Below is raw video taken a little later in the operation.
And at the bottom of the page is a story I did in July, 2007 with Keith Brower, the current Loudoun County fire chief, when he was fire marshal. It compares two house fires that occurred on the same day. One of the homes was made the old fashioned way and the other was built like the homes in South Riding.
And by the way, would everyone please stop giving the youngster who was taking the video grief (I am talking about the people you hear on the video)? Lighten up and give the kid a break. I guess I am just grouchy tonight.
The 4:49 p.m. fire, which began in a home at 43341 Nicklaus Lane, caused an estimated $1 million in damage, according to Mary Maguire, public affairs officer for Loudoun Fire-Rescue Services.
ThA total of 22 occupants of the four affected homes were temporarily displaced by the blaze. Twelve of those occupants from two homes were able to return once electrical service was restored, Maguire said.
According to fire and emergency officials, the fire started when a resident carried a container of oil that had overheated on the stove to the garage and left it there. While it was sitting in the garage, the oil heated items in the garage to a smolder. When the garage door was opened, the incoming oxygen fueled the smoldering fire, causing it to spread quickly.
Two firefighters from Calvert County, Maryland are being treated at the Medstar Burn Unit of the Washington Hospital Center after a three alarm fire that began late last night. Seven other firefighters were hurt. The fire reportedly started in the chimney of the 10,000 square-foot home. Video on this page from FDVideo2008 on YouTube.
Chief 6C arrived to find smoke showing from the second floor eves of a 10,000 square foot mega-mansion. Engine 62 arrived, laying a supply line, advancing the 400′ pre-connect and began pulling the ceiling, at which time; they found fire in the attic spreading rapidly. Within seconds, conditions deteriorated significantly resulting in zero visibility and intense heat. Command immediately ordered evacuation tones. Due to high winds off the river, water supply issues, distance from the fire house, and the size of the structure (10,000 square feet), fire spread rapidly. Immediately thereafter, the second floor flashed over resulting in nine firefighters being injured, five from Huntingtown Volunteer Fire Department and four from Prince Frederick Volunteer Fire Department. As a result of the unbearable heat, several firefighters took extreme measures such as jumping out of windows and running through walls to evacuate the structure. Chief 6A immediately ordered a Full Second Alarm with two Tankers. Later in the incident, additional units were Special Alarmed to the scene. On scene were several ambulances and medics providing care to the injured firefighters. Although units from Calvert, Charles, St. Mary’s, Anne Arundel, and Prince Georges were utilized, fire spread in such a rapid manner that the home is considered a total loss.
Two of the Huntingtown firefighters were seriously injured and transported by aviation to Washington Hospital Center. The other seven firefighters were transported to Calvert Memorial Hospital for evaluation and treatment. Subsequently, six of those initially transported to Calvert Memorial, two from Huntingtown and four from Prince Frederick, were transported to Baltimore Shock Trauma and Washington MedStar for follow-up evaluation and treatment for smoke inhalation. All seven firefighters have since been released.
With regards to the two firefighters air lifted to Washington Hospital Center, one of the firefighters is in stable condition with second degree burns to hands, neck, and face. He is expected to be released in two to three days. The second firefighter, the more seriously injured of the two, suffered respiratory burns, in addition to second degree burns to his hands, neck, and face regions. He is conscious and fully alert, but remains in serious condition. It is unknown at this time when he is expected to be released from Washington Hospital Center.
Eight Firefighters from Huntingtown & Prince Frederick VFD’s (Calvert County, Maryland) were forced to bail out of a 10,000 square foot single family dwelling “mega McMansion” around midnight last night. When Firefighters arrived, they had light smoke coming from the second floor but then conditions quickly turned ugly. Reports are that members were operating inside, searching for fire, of what started as a chimney fire when the conditions rapidly changed. At one point, the chimney of the house collapsed into the roof, creating a rapid rush of air into the fire area. Conditions then rapidly changed with flashover-like conditions. Additional companies from Calvert County responded following the emergency.
This fire is on the heals of a MAYDAY fire yesterday in Prince Frederick’s 1st due where there were reported FF’s missing. The FF was found and several other FF’s suffered burn injuries as well. We wish them all a rapid reocovery.
On Saturday, March 19, 2011, at approximately 11:56 pm, the Huntingtown Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad had a report of a chimney fire on Soper Road. The first alarm was sounded on the original dispatch and shortly after the Chief Officer arrived on the scene, a second alarm was dispatched.
Every company in Calvert County (Huntingtown, Prince Frederick, Dunkirk, St. Leonard, North Beach and Solomons) was on the call now. Also, companies from Harwood, Hollywood and Benedict were on the second alarm. There were tankers not only from Calvert County, but from other multi aid counties to supply water.
At approximately 12:20 am, the evaluation alarm was sounded as the fire had reached unsafe conditions and there was the need to get firefighters out of the house.
What started as a chimney fire turned into a 3-alarm fire that destroyed a Huntingtown, MD, home.
Huntingtown Fire officials say that shortly after midnight they responded to a call for a chimney fire at a 2-million dollar home on the 3300 block of Soper Road along the Patuxent River.
Fire officials say that soon after their arrival the chimney collapsed through the second floor threatening the structure and making the situation extremely dangerous for firefighters.
Firefighters were battling not only the flames but 20 mile winds along the riverfront and the fact that there were no hydrants at that location.
Assistant Chief Michael Montgomery of the Calvert County Fire Department said that all five occupants of the house were able to escape the fire unharmed but eight volunteer firefighters were injured. Two of the firefighters were transported to Washington Hospital Center, one of them in serious condition.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
I have referred to these stories many times, but the video has not been available in recent years on the Internet. WUSA9.com’s Emily Cyr took care of that problem for us today. The videos from July, 2004 relate directly to the conflagration last Thursday in Manassas, Virginia. NIST discovered that the simple and relatively inexpensive idea of adding a fire barrier under vinyl siding makes a dramtic difference in preventing fire spread when single family homes are built with little space between the structures.
All the way at the bottom of this post is a 10-minute interview conducted on Saturday by WUSA9.com’s Surae Chinn with Loudoun County, Virginia’s Interim Fire Chief Keith Brower. Like City of Manassas Fire Marshal Frank Teevan, Chief Brower was always one of the go-to guys when I was reporting and looking for an expert on fire safety issues. Chief Brower talks at length about how residential sprinklers and the lessons learned from the NIST testing can be the difference between one home burning and a neighborhood on fire.
A fire that destroyed three houses and damaged eight more on Tillett Loop illustrates the danger of housing developments where houses are close together.
The blaze began around 3pm when neighbors said they heard a loud bang and then saw two houses soon engulfed in flames. Those flames quickly spread to a third house. No one was inside the homes but a few cats and a few dogs died in one house.
Photos of first units arriving from Darryl Childress via WUSA9.com. Click the image for more early shots.
“It was like dominos and our house was next,” said Farrah Qura, who lives two doors down from the house that first caught on fire at 8355 Tillett Loop.
Witnesses describe flames that reached 50 feet high and were 20 feet wide. The fire was so powerful that it carried embers nearly 350 yards away.
Many neighbors spent all evening running sprinklers for fear the embers could catch fire. One family experienced a small bush fire in their front yard around 9pm, even after they watered their lawn for four hours. Columbia Gas and Electric crews banged on their doors to tell them to evacuate and then extinguished the fire.
For Jagmohan Singh, it’s a devastating blow since he just moved into his new house five months ago with his wife, son, daughter and daughter-in-law. Singh’s wife was among a handful of people who took themselves to the hospital for smoke-inhalation.
“I don’t know what we’re going to do. We just had a housewarming party on Saturday,” he said.
New – Firefighter burned battling blaze in own home: Williamsburg, Virginia firefighter Mike Trombley and his wife had just put up the Christmas decorations in their Gloucester home on Friday. The next thing they knew the living room was on fire. After hustling the family out of the house, Trombley tried to keep the fire in check while waiting for the fire department. Read the story.
Police and fire together – chiefs announce retirement rather than face budget cuts: In Saratoga Springs, New York, the police chief and the fire chief announced together at an emotional news conference yesterday they were both retiring by the end of the year. Police Chief Edward Moore and Fire Chief Robert Cogan were each going to face staffing cuts of 20-percent or more. They blame city politics for not adequately addressing the needs of protecting the public in tight budget times. Read more.
Investigation underway sparked by firehouse visitor getting lost on the way to the bathroom: A rude awakening for a career firefighter in Montgomery County, Maryland. The firefighter’s bed was mistaken for a toilet by the date of a member of the Burtonsville Volunteer Fire Department. That date apparently turned into a firehouse sleepover. Internal Affairs for Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Service has the investigation. Click here to watch and read the story.
Click the image for some must see video from Tennessee as a tanker backs into a man at a church fire.
The doctor is out. DC once again looking for a new medical director: Dr. James Augustine cites health issues for his decision to pull out of the DC Fire & EMS Department after 17 months. That isn’t the only change facing the EMS side. Click here for the details.
Baltimore mayor guilty: Mayor Sheila Dixon is found guilty of taking gift cards intended for the poor. It could force her from office. Read the details.
Woman with firefighter charged in his shooting: We told you yesterday morning about an off-duty Jacksonville, Florida firefighter found shot to death at a gas station. An 18-year-old woman with 21-year-old Emanuel Porter says she didn’t know the gun was loaded when she pointed it at him. Here are the details.