On The Job: WASHINGTON STATE

Eighty-four firefighters from 13 departments in three counties responded to a four-alarm fire that destroyed a warehouse under renovation in downtown Wenatchee, WA, on Saturday, June 20, 2009. Workers in another building reported hearing an explosion...


Eighty-four firefighters from 13 departments in three counties responded to a four-alarm fire that destroyed a warehouse under renovation in downtown Wenatchee, WA, on Saturday, June 20, 2009. Workers in another building reported hearing an explosion and saw flames and heavy smoke on the roof of...


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Engine 41 was the first engine to arrive and was assigned to side D (Spokane Street) and supplied with a 100-foot, four-inch line laid from the hydrant at Spokane and Columbia streets. Firefighters deployed a 200-foot, 2½-inch exposure line with a 250-gpm nozzle and set up in the alley outside the collapse zone to protect the exposure on the west side of the building. Ladder 42 arrived at 6:02 A.M. and was positioned on side B (Chehalis Street) near the B/C corner and adjacent to the alley. Engine 221 laid a 100-foot, four-inch line from Wenatchee Avenue and Chehalis Street to Ladder 42 for supply. Engine 221 was then repositioned to Division C and laid a 300-foot, four-inch line from a hydrant to the north of the fire across the four lanes of Wenatchee Avenue to the front of the building. Engine 221 placed its deck gun into operation with a 1¾-inch tip flowing 1,000 gpm. Firefighters stretched two 100-foot, 2½-inch lines to a 500-gpm monitor on the roof of one of the businesses on side C. Miller was assigned as the incident safety officer.

Second Alarm

Barnes requested a second-alarm commercial response at 5:58 A.M. Chelan County Fire District 1 responded with Engine 11, a 1,500-gpm pumper, and Ladder 11, a 75-foot aerial ladder with a 1,500-gpm pump. Cashmere Fire Department responded with Engine 21, a 1,500-gpm pumper. As second-alarm resources arrived at approximately 6:15 A.M., Chelan County Engine 11 was assigned to side A (Columbia Street). Engine 11 was supplied by a 400-foot, four-inch line and a 2½-inch line from a hydrant at Columbia and Chehalis streets. Engine 11 connected two 100-foot, 2½-inch lines to the sprinkler system fire department connection on the Go USA building, a 70,000-square-foot, three-story, renovated warehouse adjacent to the fire warehouse.

Chelan County Ladder 11 was positioned next to Engine 11 and established aerial master stream operations at the A/D corner of the involved warehouse. Ladder 11 was supplied by Engine 11. Cashmere Engine 21 was assigned to B Division (Chehalis Street) and laid a 200-foot, four-inch hydrant supply from the west side of Wenatchee Avenue for its supply and connected another four-inch line to Ladder 42. Firefighters placed a monitor into operation at the B/C corner of the fire building to assist with exterior exposures of adjacent businesses.

Third Alarm

Barnes requested a third alarm at 6:18 A.M. Several of these departments were one hour away. Responding units included Leavenworth Fire Department Engine 31 and a command unit, a Cashmere Fire Department command unit, Lake Wenatchee Engine 91, Chelan County Fire District 1 Engine 13, Dryden Fire Department Engine 62 and Orondo Fire Department Engine 241. Ladder 71 from the City of Chelan was also requested, but was out of service.

Wenatchee Fire Chief Stan Smoke arrived on scene and assumed command of the incident at 6:29. Barnes was assigned as operations chief. At 6:45, an additional four-inch supply line was laid to Engine 41. The 2½-inch exposure line was replaced with a four-inch supply line to a monitor that had a 13/8-inch tip (500 gpm) for maximum reach. At 6:55, Ladder 11 received a second four-inch line and a 2½-inch line from a hydrant 600 feet north of Columbia Street. Engine 64 and Engine 91 took a hydrant supply 600 feet southeast of the fire building with 2½-inch lines and set up two, 250-gpm monitors on the A/B corner.

At 7 A.M., Division D was established. Rehab was established on the north side of the incident by Ballard Ambulance. In addition to Engine 41, four teams of firefighters were assigned to the division and a rapid intervention team was established as interior teams entered the Go USA building to check and maintain the internal exposure wall. Firefighters were uncertain at the time about the continuity of the wall because building plans called for passageways cut into the warehouse.

The interior teams checked exposure walls in the basement and on all three floors. They found the interior exposure wall in good condition. However, the first interior team located a 16-inch-square breach in the separation wall on the third floor where three temporary 50-amp electrical cables were supplied through the hole in the wall. One firefighter grabbed a bag of mortar from the third-floor construction project and plugged the hole to prevent the fire from spreading into the Go USA building. Another noted exposure issue in the Go USA building was the storage of 4,000 tires in the basement adjacent to the fire warehouse.

As firefighters continued to monitor interior exposures, they began salvage efforts for the businesses in the Go USA building. This building was constantly monitored with a thermal imager and building occupants were led in to cover equipment and remove a large number of servers and computers from a business on the main floor. Damage in this building was limited to light smoke and the sprinkler system was not activated on any floor. There was an inch or less of water in the basement that leaked through, but the cement floor and tire storage there sustained little permanent damage except wet shavings in the common wall.