First Arriving Network
Powered by the First Arriving Network,Reaching 1M+ First Responders Worldwide

Dash-cam video & radio traffic: Rescue attempt at fatal house fire in Arcata, CA.

Do you want to sell a rig? Click HERE to find out how with

Previously posted video from this fire

This is dash-cam video and radio traffic from the command vehicle at the December 7 house fire in Arcata, California that left one man dead. We previously posted video from this fire that threatened an apartment building next door. Here is the detailed description that Arcata Fire posted with this video:

Arcata Fire Protection District personnel responded to 210 H Street in Arcata, California on December 7th, 2013 at 5:55 pm after receiving a report of a residential structure fire with possible entrapment. Firefighters arrived within two minutes and reported a heavily involved single family residence with fire threatening to spread to a two story apartment complex.

The occupants of the house were unaccounted for so the first arriving crew made an aggressive attempt to enter through the front door and search for possible occupants inside of the burning home. The second arriving engine began extinguishment of the apartment complex and prepared for fire control of the burning residence.

CA Arcata H street fatal fire

The engine company that was searching for possible occupants inside of the main fire building was hampered by extreme heat and high fuel loading, specifically, furniture and personal belongings, inside of the home. The search crew had to exit the structure and reposition to the back of the home where conditions were more tenable.

The search crew used a tactic called Vent/Enter/Search (VES) to gain access into the back of the home and search for occupants. Battalion Chief Campbell reported, "The VES tactic is a high risk, aggressive maneuver where firefighters enter the burning structure without a hose line to search for trapped occupants. The crew searches all interior portions of the structure while fire is rapidly consuming the building. Firefighters on the outside are not able to put water on the fire during this time because that would cause fire to be pushed onto the search crew.

If you watch some of the other videos that are out there, it appears as though we are not doing anything as the house is consumed by fire. That is not an accurate observation, as we are trying to save a life by putting our crews inside of the burning building to find occupants. In this case, we intentionally did not put water on the main fire because it would have burned our firefighters. This buys time for the search crew to try and locate and remove any occupants. All the outside crews can do is protect exposures and wait for the search to be completed".

Arcata Fire exists to protect the lives, environment, and property of the communities it serves.

Click here to follow on Facebook (hit “like”)


Comments - Add Yours

  • Ron Burgendene

    Strong Comand Presence by the IC. Great video thanks for posting.

  • Fire21

    I like this video…good communications, good command, good decisions, good operations.  Excellent try on the rescue.  Great work, Arcata!

    • Fire21

      I think I was one of those who made detracting comments when I saw the previous video.  Just goes to prove…point of view and a little more info can make all the difference.

  • Anonymous

    Such a difference between ICS vs SOP driven departments.  You can't talk a fire out but so many places think they can!

    I like the "were doing an interior attact but are being cautious."  LOL

  • Anonymous

    train the guys to put airpacks somwhere other than in front of the camera

  • ukfbbuff

    1st. Moving the command vehicle around the  worked in this case.

    2nd. It didn't help the video when the Comapny Officer abandonded his air supply on the hood of the command vehicle to be a "runner" for  the TIC. What if he needed it at the location he went to

    3rd. I aggree, good Command Presence by the IC in coordination search operations with Fire Attack.

    4th. "West meets East"

     "V-E-S" is NOT Part of the California State Fire Training Curriculum, and thus is being taught only at the individual FD level. 

    There are those of us who have been taught this procedure at such locations as FDIC or FDTN, outside of California and then brought the technique back.

    Still, it requires some "selling" to the FD Leaders, as there may be some liability.

    5th. Arcata FPD is located in the Northern California Coastal County of "Humboldt" and is still a "Logging" community. Its good to see since the time I worked in the area, many years ago, that Communications  have been streamlined;

    "Fortuna" being the designator for the Cal-Fire Command/Communications Center              



    • SIX50


      "2nd. It didn't help the video when the Comapny Officer abandonded his air supply on the hood of the command vehicle to be a "runner" for  the TIC. What if he needed it at the location he went to"

      -> The person who "abandoned" his air pack on the hood was the Incident Commander Aid.  The TIC runner was a firefighter off of another engine.  Great point though – IF that was the case.


      And I agree, the command presence was incredible. 

  • Hazmatters Rule

    I think that first in fire captain did a great job. Not only did she give a great size up, but sprang right into rescue mode. She transmitted water supply requests, and identified the hoarder conditions inside the structure. GREAT JOB CAPTAIN !!!!!!!

    HIC is soooooo smooth… Great job there as well.

    • Fire21

      As a former company and command officer, I appreciate you recognizing her quality communications.  I noticed what she was saying, but it didn't register with me to give her kudos on the job she did.  You gave rightous praise to her for a job well done.

  • Roofhook22

    Agree with most comments, but am very perplexed as to why a couple of straight streams through the windows for few seconds was not tried before entry was attempted?  Was the searched underway before tic was brought forward?   Knocking the horsepower out of  a well involved fire can usually pay dividends.

    • njff

      If you do that you will send super heated steam, smoke   and maybe the fire in the un burnt area . If there was a viable chance for a resuce you would destroy it by doing this . The fire looks like it's blowing out the front ,  if you have the manpower to enter from the back with search and fire attack . But it sounded to me they only had the manpower for a search team on the first rig.

  • Dickey

    I shall second that…great job by the first in Cap! Great job with IC too. Sounded smooth.

  • cbj

    Caution- controversial comments ahead! Good command presence, good job with communications. About holding off on some fire attack due to the rescue attempt: How many of us who have been trained and ingrained with this approach over the last 3 or 4 decades will be preparred to reaccess our approach given some ligit research that may prove our previous ideas to be wrong? Would hitting this fire before the rescue attempt, and even during it on a limited and controlled basis have a positive effect? Is allowing the fire to continue to spread, intensify and progressively destroy more property actually going to improve a victims chance for survival? What if what we beleived to be the right way to do things was actually not the best all along? Fire enviornment is changing, maybe we were right for the past, but in need of a change now all thngs considered. From what I have learned over the past I remain doubtful we will be able to adapt.

  • Former Chief

    Looked like a great job under very difficult conditions on arrival.  Looking at Arcata's website, they cover 62 square miles from three stations with a staffing of two from each station plus a volunteer at one station.  So if that's accurate, they had 7 people plus the IC on the initial alarm?  TWO on an Engine?!  I realize that's the reality in a lot of places, but if we're only putting two on an Engine we loose before the tones drop.  If I can make a suggestion to Arcata, I would use this fire as an example and immediately begin an effort to at least up staff to three on an Engine out of each station.  Even that's not sufficient, but you have to start somewhere.  Just to put this in perspective, FDNY would have had something like 3 Engines, 2 Trucks and a BC on the initial call with an additional Engine, Squad, Rescue and Chiefs on the 10-75 (working fire).  That's around 40 Firefighters on scene in probably 10 minutes.

    Again, strong work by Arcata and their mutual aid departments.  It looked and sounded like they were on their game.  VES under those conditions, impressive.

  • Roofhook22

    Njff,  I mentioned straight stream for a reason, no fire will be pushed!! You would be correct that steam can be pushed using any fog stream.  If you have to wait for any reason, even for a few seconds, throwing some water at the problem is better than letting it free burn unchecked.  

  • cbj

    "Former Chief" you should well know that staffing is THE hardest issue to deal with. It doesnt matter ONE BIT what any studies may say, what FDNY does, or even how many get hurt…or worse. Budgets dictate staffing (unless there is a shortage of volunteers) and government dicate budgets based on taxpayers pressure.There are FEW areas increasing staffing. Most of us are hoping to hold on to three…IF we have three! When firefighters start giving government officials and taxpayers the service they are willing to pay for maybe THEN we will see them wake up. But WE need to wake up first.