About three weeks ago we had a structure fire involving a fairly new house. It originally came in as a basement fire (reported by the owner who was still inside) but about six minutes later fire was visible from several miles away. When we arrived it was fully involved, and about three minutes later the first floor collapsed into the basement/garage area, bringing everything else down with it.

Story and pictures here: http://ontariofirewire.com/archives/255

I took the first photo when I arrived, about ten minutes after the tones dropped.

Cause of the fire appears to be a propane explosion which blew out all doors and windows. This may have led to the fire taking such a fast hold on the structure, but the lightweight construction had a lot to do with it.

Collapse occurred about ten minutes after first ignition. We were lucky. This is our second encounter with this type of construction within a year. We are working with code enforcement to identify and mark all houses in our district with lightweight materials.

Watch out, brothers and sisters.

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It's funny, in my area, low end (starter home) starts at $250K, $60-$120 is the price range for cars/SUV's.
$60-$120 is the price range for cars/SUV's.

Could be considered a home I guess.


and the fact that you fought this fire in the snow was never mentioned... like this is no big deal? geez... talk about adding a ton of complicating factors. it's bad enough to have the structure fire but to add snow, cold weather and an early morning response makes it all that much more daunting.


Note: My world for the most part does not include this thing you call snow. It's more like the one below (not your kind of snow, just meth lab snow), which means I have tremendous respect for anyone who has to deal with cold weather snow and firefighting.

Please use these three photos to provide additional comments and lessons learned.
House prices are about the same here, but I'm sure car prices are relatively the same everywhere. Unless you're talking about what is parked in these over priced driveways?
You mentioned meth lab above, is that what this was? That was a lot of flame and black smoke, looked really hot.
We have had fire after fire in our area over the last couple of months. The worst was balloon construction with light weight add ons. Needless to say, even with 100 firefighters, plus, on scene and a 6th alarm, we still lost half a block. Balloon is tough enough at times, but at least you have a little time to find it and knock it down. The light weight garbage just kept adding fuel.

I think sprinklers are a good idea, BUT, if the money was spent on better construction maybe they wouldn't be needed in residential buildings?? Hard to say? I've getting tired of being pulled out of houses because the floors collapse in minutes!
Our last major fire was a barn. In the middle of the night and it was a cedar furniture workshop...yes fun fun. Oh and I'm in Northern Michigan so the outside temp -32F with the wind chill. I literally was frozen to the hose. I had a good 1/2 inch of ice build up on my gear. We had to leave all the hoses running water whether in use or not.
Looks like you saved the foundation... if everyone went home safely, you did your job!
Check out this blog from my good friend Chief Naum.


The weather at this incident was cold, cold, cold. Temperature was in the low teens (F) and it did not take too long for everything to freeze up.

The top picture is taken to the road and we will call the road side of the structure Side 1.  The middle picture is the 1-2 corner and in the center is what was left of the small overhang that was above the entrance door. to the left and below this overhang is the garage area with what is left of the house in it.  There was also a car in that pile.

Picture 3 shows the opening in side 2 where the overhead door was.  Note where the snow (about 4" accumulation) was melted from the radiant heat.

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