Suffolk Department of Fire & Rescue responded to a vacant structure fire blocks from fire headquarters around 4:30 .a.m. on Oct. 7. Battalion 1 immediately requested a second-alarm due to intense fire conditions. Crews found a two-story vacant home in the heart of the historic district fully involved.
The two exposure houses were also on fire with people still inside. Firefighters made a quick evacuation of the surrounding homes and began defensive operations. The first alarm companies were busy stretching large diameter lines and setting up aerial master streams. Once the second and third alarm companies arrived, additional large diameter deluge guns were directed at the fire venting out of the exposures. Eventually, crews started aggressive interior attacks in both exposures knocking down remaining fire that was seen blowing out of the rear windows. Three houses were damaged along with one house across the street that suffered radiant heat damage and four vehicles.
Lessons learned from this large fire include proper size up and quick attack line deployment. The incident commander properly sized up the scene and directed units away from the power lines that were on fire. Many of these lines fell to the ground making a potentially dangerous situation.
It is easy to be caught up in the moment with large fire conditions but we owe it ourselves to see the big picture. Firefighters were able to extinguish exposure fires safely from a distance until the power company arrived and secured power to the block. Enough cannot be said for quick attack line deployment. Operating effectively in teams and pulling lines can dramatically affect the outcome of the call. Within minutes of our arrival, exposure lines were in place, water supply established and aerial master streams flowing.
Crews were relived on site by the on coming shift that remained on scene until the next night extinguish hot spots and assisting investigators. There were no injuries reported. The Fire Marshall's office is currently investigating this fire with the assistance of the Tidewater Regional Arson Panel.