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Close call video: Warning of collapse came just in time in Boise, ID.

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Thanks to two STATter911.com readers from Idaho for alerting us to this video and audio from a battalion chief’s vehicle taken during a fire Thursday evening in a vacant house under renovation on West Hill road.

John Sowell, Idaho Statesman:

“We were really close to losing a firefighter,” Boise fire Chief Dennis Doan told reporters this afternoon during a press conference called to view video taken at the scene.

Capt. Randy Christensen, who was positioned at the back of the house saw a wall bow and realized the house was in danger of imminent collapse, Doan said. He relayed that information to Battalion Chief Aaron Hummel, the incident commander, who took immediate action.

“All units, this is command, back up from your positions out of the collapse zone of the structure. Back up,” Hummel could be heard on the tape.

It took Hummel five seconds to issue his command. Seven firefighters positioned about 10 to 15 feet from the front of the house calmly abandoned their positions and started walking down the driveway toward the street.

Six seconds after Hummel gave the final “Back up,” at 9:43 p.m., a rush of flames shot out an opening where the garage door had been and through a nearby window of the house. The house then collapsed.

 BoiseFireDepartment info with the video:

“This is a perfect example of hard and consistent training paying off in the field and saving lives ” says Boise Fire chief Dennis Doan.

 “Identifying the imminent collapse of the structure and reacting immediately saved firefighters from serious injury or potentially even a fatality in this case.”

What Happened: Boise firefighters battled a fast moving, spectacular fire in a large, 3-story home on the northeast corner of W. Hill Road and Castle Drive in northwest Boise overnight. A passerby called 911 reporting the fire at 9:30 p.m. Responding fire crews saw smoke a half-mile away and quickly called for a second alarm before even arriving on scene.

Firefighters immediately went defensive on the fire, meaning when they arrived the flames were so extensive and aggressive they did not attempt to go inside the home. Neighbors told assisting Boise Police officers the home was being remodeled and no one was living there at the time.

Collapse: Less than 15 minutes into the battle, a firefighter on the north side of the home told commanders there were signs the largest portion of the structure was about to collapse. The Battalion Chief acting as Incident Command called firefighters away from the structure just as the first side collapsed. Immediately what’s called a “roll call” was done by fire command, a radio check from each firefighter on scene to insure no one was trapped then 3-story wall came down. Fortunately everyone was accounted for and unhurt. The 5,000 square foot house continued to collapse as firefighters worked hard to keep the flames from spreading.
Embers Sparked Two Roof Fires: The flames shot so high into the air during the peak of the fire, the roofs of two homes south of Hill Rd on W. Holli Hill Dr caught fire. A 3rd alarm had already been called and those resources were assigned to help neighbors put out those fires, already being doused with garden hoses when firefighters quickly assisted and knocked the fires out. Boise Police officers had gone door to door in the neighborhood just south of the fire alerting neighbors to the flying embers.

Remodeling causes fire to burn quickly: The home was being remodeled and the interior was nearly gutted. Some interior walls had no sheetrock, meaning the fire could move quickly burning the large homes structural support causing the quick collapse.
The raging fire also caused minor damage to two smaller outbuildings on the property just north of the house.

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