Special to Must see series of photos of flashover that ignites firefighter’s gear. The story from Erwin, North Carolina.

Firefighter Will Gregory exits the home with his PPE on fire. Photo by Brian Haney, The Daily Record.
Firefighter Will Gregory exits the home with his PPE on fire. Photo by Brian Haney, The Daily Record.

Click here for the entire article by Brian Haney at alerted me to this close call from a fire Monday morning in Erwin, North Carolina. I contacted Brian Haney, the man who took these pictures and wrote the article about the fire for The Daily Record in Dunn. Brian gave permission to post some of his photos. Click the image below for the slide show Jillian Coyle at put together for us. It includes the time stamp on each image.


The fire was at 1105 Denim Drive. According to Brian’s article, the fire started because of an electrical problem in the attic. A passerby first noticed smoke running the roof line of the house. The four people who live in the home were away when the fire was discovered.

Now to the flashover. Here’s the description from Brian Haney’s article:

Erwin firemen Michael Bradley and Will Gregory worked to put the fire out from inside the home.

Suddenly, shouts could be heard over the radios of the firefighters working outside and the two firemen inside tumbled out the front door, rolling on the front porch. They were on fire.

Other firefighters rushed to the porch and helped put out their comrades. Once Officers Bradley and Gregory were no longer on fire, they continued to fight the fire.

The men had been caught in a flashover, which happens when all combustible materials in a room ignite at one time.

“It was a bad experience,” Mr. Gregory said.

He said nothing like that had happened to him before in a situation that wasn’t controlled.

“When you do a live burn, you get to walk through the house,” he said, “and this house I ain’t never been in till today.”

He said it was like going into a blind box and wishing for the best.

“Today we went in, the conditions changed very rapidly, we were trying to get out and things happened too fast,” he said.

Mr. Gregory said the flashover happened when he knocked out a bedroom window for ventilation.

“The heat came on us and it blackened,” he said. “As soon as it went black, I looked behind me and it had already lit off. It looked like somebody poured gas on it.”

In the end, though, he said he was just worried about getting his crew out, which he did successfully.

“The guys are good and everybody’s home safely,” he said.

The only damage, he said, was to equipment, things that can be replaced. Back at the truck he held up a thermal imaging camera. The exterior had mostly melted.

Dunn Emergency Services and Coats-Grove Fire Departmentprovided mutual aid for the Erwin Department. 

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