"It seemed like a routine house fire in the early evening .... the fire began in the first floor living room and burned slowly at first but with enough intensity to burn through the ceiling into the second floor. When we arrived on scene there was heavy dark smoke issuing from the chimney and all windows in the front were heavily darkened from smoke. There were just five of us on one engine.

We managed to get in quick and pull an unconscious woman out from the first floor before making a second entry with a hose-line. Visibility inside the structure was non existent and the fire's exact location was unknown at this time. The Thermal Imaging Camera gave us a clue when it totally whited out when pointed up in the area we believed the stairs to the second floor were. Trying to direct the hose stream was almost impossible because we couldn't see it but things were certainly hotting up very quickly!

Suddenly everything went blacker than black and with a 'whoooompf' the fire just came down on us. It was like this 'black fire' thing that everyone talks about only we were right at the heart of this thing. The fire had suddenly received a supply of air from the street doorway behind us and dramatically intensified in the living room to our left. However, the real problem came when the hot-rich gases on the second floor lit-up and rapidly expanding superheated gases came down the stairs, straight at us. The heat was beyond belief and the pressure wave caused the street door behind us to slam shut.

We were trapped in this swirling center of what seemed like a volcano.

All it needed was a vent opening on the second floor! Why oh why didn't somebody take those windows out?

Vent high .... vent with a directive .... vent with an objective .... communicate and coordinate yes .... but where was the vent opening that would have saved us from this hell"?

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Comment by Engineco913 on March 9, 2008 at 12:58pm
More proof that a good scene sizeup, and ventilation are important. Remember no scene is an "ordinary call" for it is those ordinary calls we get hurt or killed on daily.
The flashover conditions you all experienced are normal for a non vented house. When you said the black smoke was banked down the windows already, should have been a clear indication that it was ready to go.
Congrats on the rescue, hope the next call goes better

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