To access the remainder of this piece of premium content, you must be registered with Firehouse. Already have an account? Login
Register in seconds by connecting with your preferred Social Network.
Complete the registration form.
Below are several accounts of what occurred during a fire in a single-family dwelling. One personal account is from Erin Craven, a part-time firefighter/EMT who completed firefighter training within the past year. This was her first interior fire. She lives at this house with her parents and was at home at the time of the fire. Another personal account is from Lieutenant Marty Stallings, a long-time friend of the family involved.
Colleton County, SC, Fire-Rescue is a combination fire-rescue department. This single fire district was created by an act of the County Council several years ago, combining 16 independent, community-based volunteer fire districts. The department has 325 members operating out of 28 stations with 72 full-time paid and part-time paid firefighters and the balance being volunteer firefighters. They protect 1,054 square miles with 82 vehicles.
Three Colleton County firefighters narrowly escaped injury at this incident. As you will read, Stallings reported that he heard the water from the exterior hoseline hit the wall in the fire room just prior to the actual backdraft explosion. As well stated by the fire-rescue director, Chief Barry McRoy, like most fire officers, “we preach constantly to never conduct an exterior and interior attack at the same time, but then it happens” and in this case, could have caused a tragic outcome.
Our sincere thanks to the officers and members of Colleton County Fire-Rescue and especially Firefighter-EMT Erin Craven, Lieutenant Marty Stallings and Chief Barry McRoy for their willingness to share their experience and lessons learned. We also appreciate the assistance of Grant Mishoe, editor of the website www.SConFire.com, for his support and details provided for this column.
The following is an account from www.SConFIRE.Com by Chief Barry McRoy:
At 9:15 A.M., firefighters were dispatched to a report of smoke coming from under the residence and in the air ducts at 8756 Bennett’s Point Road. The residence is located in a remote area about nine miles from the closest fire station. It took Engine 601, with one firefighter, 10 minutes to arrive on scene, with several firefighters arriving on the scene in their personal vehicles. The first-alarm assignment called for four stations to respond, and they were alerted. The total first alarm turned out two engines and four tankers with a total of 21 firefighters arriving within 20 minutes. Additionally, one EMS unit and three fire command officers also turned out. Due to daytime response, two additional engines that were due did not turn out.
Firefighters found heavy smoke conditions at the rear of the 100-year-old, two-story residence. The initial three-member attack crew made entry through the back door and advanced a 1¾-inch handline to the interior B side of the building. The door to the involved bedroom was closed. Upon reaching the hallway, firefighters noticed smoke bellowing from under the bedroom door, extending about three feet into the hall and then being sucked back in. Lieutenant Marty Stallings radioed for the building to be ventilated.
Within seconds, the fire burned through the door and we experienced a backdraft. This happened within seconds of an exterior firefighter, without command orders to do so, charging a hoseline and hitting the fire on the number-one floor from the outside just seconds before the explosion.
As the chief, with 30 years in the fire service, I have never experienced anything like this – I thought it was a propane tank, or something like it, that had exploded! The sound of the explosion sent our exterior personnel ducking for cover as glass, debris and fire were propelled throughout the yard with fire extending 30 feet out!