On Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012, a three-alarm fire destroyed the Majestic Condominiums on the shore of Table Rock Lake near Branson, MO. Despite strong winds, inadequate water and a shortage of manpower on the initial alarm,
the fire was contained to the building of origin and no
firefighters or civilians were injured.
The 109,840-square-foot building was constructed in two phases; the first phase was completed in 2007 and the second phase in 2008. The four-story building was of Type V, wood-frame construction with a gable roof covered with composite shingles. Each floor contained 27,460 square feet, divided into 1,600-square-foot condominium units, 17 on each floor. The building had a fire alarm system and a 13R sprinkler system. There were no sprinklers on the decks off of each unit or in the attic.
First units dispatched
The Western Taney County Fire Protection District was dispatched to the fire at 3:20 P.M. Responding on the initial alarm were Western Taney County Engines 31 and 13, Ladder 54, Heavy Rescue 17, the 1,550-gallon Tanker 15 and 1,800-gallon Tanker 35 with 15 firefighters under the command of Battalion Chief 5, Danny Rylott. Automatic mutual aid was also dispatched on the initial alarm. The Branson Fire Department responded with Engine 3 and Tanker 3, carrying 1,000 gallons of water. The Southern Stone County Fire Protection District responded with Engine 6104 and Tanker 6107, with 1,500 gallons of water.
The first-arriving unit, Branson Engine 3, found fire on the third and fourth floors on sides A and C extending into the attic. All occupants had been evacuated by management before the arrival of the fire department, though it was reported that one person could possibly be still inside a condo unit on the third floor. A primary search was initiated by crews, but the person was soon accounted for by management.
Western Taney County Engine 31 and Ladder 54 along with Branson Engine 3 and Tanker 3 were positioned on side A. Branson Engine 3 laid a 300-foot, five-inch supply line from a hydrant at the A/B corner of the building to the center of side A. Firefighters advanced attack lines to the third and fourth floors from Engine 3. A 200-foot, three-inch line was stretched to the fourth floor. One 100-foot, 1¾-inch attack line was wyed off of the three-inch line and put into operation. A 300-foot, three-inch line was stretched to the third floor. A 100-foot, 1¾-inch attack line was wyed off of the three-inch line and placed into operation. At this time, conditions on side A were fire in the attic and loft extending down into three condo units and spreading horizontally to the B and D sides. On the C side, fire was spreading from the third-floor balcony to the fourth floor and into a third-floor unit.
Western Taney County Engine 31 Lieutenant Danny Macias requested a second alarm at 3:34 P.M. Western Taney County units responding on the second alarm were Engines 73, 42, 62 and 82, the 1,800-gallon Tanker 75 and Command 100 with a light trailer. The Branson Fire Department responded with Truck 2 and the College of the Ozarks Fire Department sent Engine 2. A Southern Stone County fireboat also responded.
Western Taney County Engines 42 and 62, both pumper/tankers with 1,800-gallon tanks, and Tanker 75 were assigned to tanker-shuttle operations. Branson Truck 2 was positioned on side C and set up for aerial master stream operations. College of Ozarks Engine 2 was placed in staging and its crew was assigned to firefighting operations in Division A.
Western Taney County Assistant Fire Chief James Single arrived on scene at 3:40 P.M. Single performed a 360-degree walk-around to evaluate the fire conditions and operations before assuming command from Rylott at 3:50 P.M.
Two crews operated on the fourth floor for approximately 40 minutes. Fire was in the attic and extending down into at least three condo units. Crews were evacuated from the building when the first of two thunderstorms moved through the area. The thunderstorm passed to the south of the scene increasing sustained winds to 39 mph with gusts peaking at 50 mph. The winds lasted about 15 minutes. These winds intensified the fire and spread it out of control. The second three-inch line stretched to the fourth floor was never charged before firefighters were evacuated from the building.
After firefighters were evacuated and a personnel accountability report (PAR) was taken, defensive operations were initiated. Western Taney County Ladder 54 was set up for aerial master stream operations and was supplied by a 200-foot, five-inch line from Engine 31. Engine 31 was fed by a 200-foot, five-inch line from a hydrant at the A/D corner of the building and also placed its deck gun into operation.
At 4 P.M., the Southern Stone County fireboat was positioned 2,000 feet south of the fire scene on Table Rock Lake. A 1,400-foot, five-inch line was hand laid from the fireboat to Western Taney County Engine 73 located by the lake off the C/D corner of the building. Engine 73 laid a 1,000-foot, five-inch supply line from Truck 2 on side C to the lake. Engine 73 supplied Branson Truck 2 until C-side operations ceased at dusk. Engine 73 then supplied Engine 233, which relay pumped to Engine 31 on side A. This water source supplied 600 gpm of water to the fireground.
A water supply for tankers was established at the boat launch ramp on Table Rock Lake, 1¾ miles away, at 4 P.M. Western Taney County Engine 102 drafted from the lake with a five-inch suction hose to fill tankers. A tanker dump site was established on Majestic Drive using two 3,000-gallon portable tanks. Southern Stone County Engine 6104 drafted from the portable tanks and supplied Western Taney County Engine 82, a pumper/tanker with a 1,800-gallon tank, located at the A/B corner of the building through an 800-foot, five-inch supply line. Engine 82 supplied Western Taney Ladder 54 and Branson Engine 3 through a 300-foot, five-inch supply line.
Single, the incident commander, requested a third alarm at 4:10 P.M. Western Taney County Engine/Tanker 92, carrying 1,500 gallons of water, and Tanker 25, with 1,550 gallons of water, responded. Engine 92 and Tanker 25 were assigned to the tanker shuttle operations. The Central Taney County Fire Protection District responded with Engine 42. Southern Stone County was asked to send another engine and tanker, but could not due to other working calls in its district.
A fast-moving natural-cover fire ignited at approximately 4:15 P.M. Wind-driven embers ignited the fire northeast of the fire building. Single requested additional mutual aid and assistance from the Missouri Department of Conservation at 4:21 P.M. Responding to the request were Western Taney County Brush 59, a 300-gpm brush truck, Central Taney County Brush 47 and Forsyth Fire Department Brush 2. The Conservation Department responded with a bulldozer. A tanker and brush truck were requested from the Omaha, AR, Fire Department, but were unable to respond due to working calls from storm damage in its district. Forsyth and Central Taney County also responded with light trailers.
Western Taney County Captain Mike Schultz was assigned officer-in-charge of the Brush Group. Central Taney County Engine 42 and Brush 47, Western Taney County Brush 59, Forsyth Brush 2 and the Conservation Department dozer were assigned to the Brush Group. In addition to one-inch handlines and the dozer, firefighters used rakes and leaf blowers to extinguish the fire. The fire consumed five to 10 acres, a pickup truck and a dumpster before it was controlled.
Western Taney County Fire Chief Chris Berndt was out of town at the time of the fire, but was in telephone communications with command and requested additional mutual aid under the State Mutual Aid Plan at 4:30 P.M. The Springfield Fire Department responded with Engines 5 and 10, the Battlefield Fire Protection District sent Engine 4 and the Ozark Fire Protection District dispatched Engine 1. These units were staged and the crews were used in suppression operations.
The Logan-Rogersville Fire Protection District responded with Engine 233, which was used in relay pumping from Western Taney County Engine 73 and the fireboat. A ladder truck from Logan-Rogersville, an engine from the Marshfield Fire Department and tankers from the Fair Grove and Strafford fire departments were stationed at various Western Taney County stations for coverage of any additional emergency calls. Departments responding under the State Mutual Aid Plan were all located more than 30 miles away, with some requiring up to 90 minutes’ travel time.
At 5 P.M., a second thunderstorm passed over the scene, increasing sustained winds to 20 mph with gusts to 44 mph. This storm lasted about 20 minutes. Aerial master streams from Branson Truck 2 and Western Taney Ladder 54, Engine 31’s deck gun and numerous handlines were used.
Single declared the fire under control at 11 P.M. Mutual aid units began being released at 12:30 A.M. on Thursday, Aug. 2. The last Western Taney County units left the scene at 6:30 P.M. on Aug. 2.
There were no firefighter or civilian injuries. The temperature at the time of the fire was 103 degrees with a heat index of 110 degrees. An investigation was conducted by the Missouri State Fire Marshal. Video evidence showed that the fire started on a second- or third-story balcony on side C. The cause of the fire is undetermined, but a barbecue grill could not be ruled out. Damage to the building is estimated at $14 million. The value of the contents is undetermined. n