House Fire Christmas Eve 2012

I dont think I can recall a busier Christmas Eve than the one yesterday…I worked the night before in dispatch and we were rocking and rolling all night long with fire and police calls…came home and slept for a few hours, then drove out to Mom and Dad`s for Christmas Dinner with my nieces and nephew…my sister`s family,  and after visiting with them for a few hours, came back home to relax a bit. I hadnt been home long when I noticed someone run up on the front porch of the home of one of my neighbors and grab a package, and then continue walking down the street like nothing happened. I reported it to the police, who apprehended the suspect a few minutes later. I was wrapping that up as the fire tones dropped and a residential structure fire was dispatched, so I grabbed my coat and camera and Missy and I headed for the truck.

As I was driving toward the address, I overheard the ambulance crew arrive and advise county that the house was fully involved…soon after that I could see dark smoke a few miles ahead on Hwy 185, north of town. I arrived about five minutes behind the lead pumper, parked my truck off the road and out of the way, set the heat low for Missy, secured my truck and ran up the highway to the fire scene…this is how it looked when I got there…

02 On Arrival

Damon Sumpter, Captain on Lead Pumper 854, was on the nozzle and John Strothcamp, was backing him up, at the north end of the house, where there was heavy fire showing…

04 Damon and John Attack Fire

..the rest of the home was well involved too….mainly showing up high on the roofline….

07 Damon and John Attack Fire

…however as I continued to shoot photos, fire soon appeared in the large front glass window of the home, to the left of the front door….

08 Damon and John Attack Fire

..and the color of the smoke curling up from the eaves of the roof was starting to darken down as well, indicating the fire was reaching the attic area and gaining strength…

09 Damon and John Attack Fire


10 Damon and John Attack Fire


11A  Damon and John Attack Fire

Larry Flescher arrived a few minutes after me and took command of the fire, and a tanker arrived soon after. The fire continued to strengthen both outside the house as well as inside the home….

12 Damon & John Reposition


14 Damon & John Reposition

…and soon Damon had John return to the pumper and pull another hoseline, so that another crew could fight the outside fire while he and John would enter the house and fight the interior fire that was beginning to gain strength…..and as heavy fire began to penetrate the roof at the back side of the house as well….

19 Fire Vents Roof

…and John was no sooner away than Damon was enveloped in a cloud of smoke as he continued to fight the outside fire on the north end of the house….

20 Damon Solo On Hoseline

…I was shooting fairly fast for the first few minutes, trying to capture the flames when they emerged from the heavy smoke, so it might appear that alot of time is taken and things are moving slowly, when in fact things were happening pretty quickly. Damon was solo on the hose for just a couple of minutes….

21 Damon Solo On Hoseline


22 Damon Attacks Fire


23 Damon Attacks Fire

…before Junior Firefighter Eric arrived and backed him up on the hoseline…

24 Eric Backs Up Damon

…and soon they were both enveloped in the growing smoke cloud…

25 Eric Backs Up Damon

…as the fire everywhere intensified….

27 Eric Backs Up Damon


29 Eric Backs Up Damon


31 Eric Backs Up Damon

…pretty soon, John returned with another hoseline, as Eric and Damon continued to fight the outside fire and as the fire intensified inside the home, as seen by the glow through the window….

33 Damon and Eric on Line


34 John Stretches Another Line


37 John Stretches Another Line


40 John Stretches Another Line

…and it was about this time, that Damon told Eric that he and John were going to take the red line and enter the house…

43 John Stretches Line to Front Door


44 John Stretches Line to Front Door

 Eric took over the nozzle and was backed up by Corey Rice and Jr Firefighter Korey….

45 Corey Backs Up Eric on Nozzle

…and soon Corey instructed the juniors to take the hoseline around to the other side to get a better angle on the heavy fire…however this required dragging the hose through some branches that were laying there…

46 Corey & Jrs Pull Hose Around House


47 Corey & Jrs Pull Hose Around House

…while the fire raged on and intensified near the peak of the roof…once they were able to stretch the line through the brush and approach from the back, they had a  much better angle on the fire at the roofline too….

50 Corey Backs Up Jr Hoseline

…while back at the front of the house, a third hoseline was being stretched by Eric and EMT Korey Zancauske to place another line in service…

51 Eric Stretches 3rd Line

….. the fire outside still raged on as Damon and John now worked inside to knock down the heavy fire……while Corey Rice and Korey Snelson masked up to enter the house with the blue line to assist Damon and John with the interior attack…

55 Corey and Jr Prepare to Enter

As soon as Corey and Korey were inside and fighting fire, Damon and John came out and began attacking the north end of the home again, this time using foam instead of water only….

59 Crews Attack With Foam Now

60 John and Damon Applying Foam

…and pretty soon the flames were dying down and disappearing with only the smoke remaining….

61 John and Damon Applying Foam

…Bourbon Fire Department arrived and three of their firefighters relieved Corey and Korey on the attack line inside the house, so they could get their air tanks replaced with new ones and take a shortbreak…

62 Corey Z Helps Change Air Tanks

…while Damon and John were trying to get a handle on the outside wall with the foam…Damon getting a good angle through an open window and trying to knock down the fire within the wall…

64 Damon Gets Good Angle With Foam

Corey and Korey then re-entered the house with fresh packs and gave Bourbon`s firefighters a  chance to change out their air bottles as well…

66 John Rejoins Damon

…a few minutes later, Corey and Korey ran out of air again and came back out to take a break. Shown here is Jr Firefighter Louis assisting Korey with his air tank….

69 Louis Changes Koreys Air Tank

….and a few minutes later, Louis was helping Eric with overhaul of the exterior fire on the north side of the house, where moments earlier, Damon and John were able to finally knock down the flames with foam…

70 Juniors Help Overhaul


72 Juniors Help Overhaul

…and here Bourbon`s crew is shown masking up to enter the home after changing out their air tanks….

74 Bourbon Prepares to Enter 2nd Time

…it was soon after this that I left the scene, headed home to warm back up and relax….a four hour nap doesnt get me as far these days as it used to.


Day After Thanksgiving 2012…Structure Fire with Haz Mat

The day after Thanksgiving in 2012 will be remembered in the history books of the Sullivan Fire District for some time…. firefighters literally had their hands full for a few hours with a large building fire, fed by several hundred gallons of diesel fuel.

I was preparing to take my nap Friday afternoon, in order to return to work rested up, when the tones dropped for a boiler fire next to a business, two miles west of Sullivan on the North Service Road. I didnt recognize the address, but put my shoes back on, grabbed my camera, and headed for the  truck, with Missy already waiting for me at the door. Figured I would snap a few photos and then come back and get my nap in still…I have had an agreement with Jim Bartle of the Independent News to photograph fire calls for the paper when I didnt have time to go get a truck and respond like in this case, as he and Mark Hilse are not always available to go and take photos themselves. After nearly forty years on the department, there are times I just dont feel like going to a call and working a fire, times when I`m on pain medication and dont wish to risk another injury or making an existing one worse, so I`ll simply grab my camera and go snap a few photos for the paper and then leave when I want. Fire scene photography is something I have shot and enjoyed for many years as well, getting my start as the fire department photographer soon after I joined the fire department nearly forty years ago. 

As I turned west on the North Service Road, I observed heavy brown smoke high in the sky. Pumper 854, manned by our full time crew of paid firefighters, caught up to me about Hwy WW, and I pulled over to let them pass by, then got in behind them and followed them to the scene…. the former KR Wilson Contracting business, now known as Breckenridge Materials. This is what I saw on arrival…

01 On Arrival Heavily Involved

…I parked my truck out of the way and walked over to the right side to photograph the fire and building, without all the obstructions in the way….

02 Arrival Size Up

Damon Sumpter was the Captain on 854 today and on arrival he advised Franklin County to re-dispatch this as a Commercial Structure Fire, which is a first alarm….which brings in mutual aid…fire trucks and manpower from surrounding departments, which would mean Bourbon and St Clair assisting on the first alarm. I zoomed in and photographed the heavy fire on the east side of the building…

03 Arrival Heavy Fire Fed by Diesel

…there was fire creeping around the northeast corner of the building, and on the move which indicated it was being fed by a flowing stream of some type of fuel….and at times, when the smoke lifted from the gusty winds out of the northwest, one could see a very large steel tank in the background…it soon became obvious that an unknown combustible fuel was feeding this fire and making it very intense and hot, obvious that this would become a fire fought by foam additives to the water…and lots of water in great quantities…

04A  Diesel Fuel Spreads Fire

Damon and John Wayne Strothcamp pulled the preconnect line from the pumper as Nolan added to the line, then John  carried the hose out into the parking lot area halfway to the fire….…and then began to straighten the hoseline while Nolan prepared the pump for foam operations….

07 John Wayne Unravels Preconnect

….this truck has foam capabilities built in, but it was obvious a greater supply of  foam would be required, so Damon advised Franklin County to contact the Fire Departments who store great quantities of foam within this area and have them respond additional foam to the scene…. he then joined John on the preconnect and prepared to attack the heavy fire on the east end of the building.

07B Damon Joins John Wayne


Bourbon Fire Department arrived seconds after Sullivan, several of their firefighters manning a pumper, tanker, and rescue truck, and began pulling hose from their pumper immediately, setting up drop tanks for water shuttles, and preparing for foam as well…in the next few photos you will see some of their personnel, they wear black gear, working on those tasks….an ambulance from North Crawford County also arrived on scene with Bourbon FD….their personnel initially assisting with firefighting details as most of their medics are also firefighters elsewhere…..below Bourbon firefighters are seen after stretching out their line below and checking with Damon before John and Damon begin their attack, as the flames intensify in the background….

08A  BFD Arrives to Assist


08C   BFD Arrives to Assist


...John then grabs the nozzle and bleeds the hoseline of air while Damon checks his gear and prepares for battle….

09A  BFD Stretches a Line


…and begin their attack with water initially….

10A  Damon and John Wayne Begin Their Attack

As Damon and John began putting the wet stuff on the hot stuff, the hot stuff began intensifying and getting even hotter, the flames higher, the heat ever increasing and the diesel fuel flowing more, down the south side of the building….you also see the lone Bourbon firefighter manning his hoseline and using his arm to signal to his pump operator that he should go ahead and charge his hoseline, which would enable him to join the fight with Damon and John….

11 Damon & John Wayne Begin Their Attack


11A  Damon & John Wayne Have Heavy Fire

…there are also some company trucks parked on the left side of the photos above, one dump truck closest to the firefighters and two cement trucks on the other side of it…the diesel fuel was running down the side of the building in front of the trucks and the flames were beginning to grow higher….

12 Moving In With Heavy Fire

…John and Damon moved in closer to attack the growing flames, and it soon became obvious that the water was having little effect on the flames due to the diesel fuel feeding the fire….

13 Fire Intensifies

….it was about this time that a Tanker Task Force as well as a Second Alarm was requested. The location of this fire was West Sullivan, which now has an operating water supply, with a water tower not too far behind the building and pressurized hydrants within half a mile that tankers could easily access and fill at. In the meantime, the fire only continued to intensify….

14A   Heavy Fire Fed By Diesel Fuel

…and it was obvious that Damon and John didnt have foam in their hoseline yet either, the fire intensifying in front of them….

15A   Heavy Fire Fed By Diesel Fuel


15B  Damon and John Wayne on Attack


16A  Water Isnt Working Well


16B Fire Begins to Intensify East End


Above, you can see where John and Damon are knocking down the flames with the  hose stream, yet in the next photo, the flames are clearly seen re-igniting due to the diesel fuel….and still Bourbon`s firefighter waited for water as Damon and John held their ground….

17 Heavy Fire Fed By Diesel Fuel

…I remember thinking that Damon and John were likely growing tired of moving that nozzle back and forth, putting out the flames on the left side……then working the nozzle over to the right side to knock down those flames…only to see the flames reignite on the left and have to start all over again, back and forth, back and forth…….below they aggressively decide to pursue the fire…

18A  Damon and John Wayne Go After Fire


19 Damon and John Wayne Move In


20 Damon & John Wayne Move In

…only to look back and see the flames they had just knocked down on the left side, now reigniting with even more intensity…….

21 Damon & John Wayne Move In


22 Damon & John Wayne Move In

 …and Bourbon continued to wait for water as Damon and John advanced their line once again….

23 Damon & John Wayne Move In

…and moved in closer to try and keep the fire somewhat contained as it was growing higher and closer to the company trucks parked next to the building……by this time, I looked back to the trucks and observed Bourbon firefighters having problems with the foam eductor…like our department, their older trucks dont have the foam capability built into the pump panel, so you have to break the attack line out away from the pumper, and install a foam eductor into the line…on one end there is a plastic or rubber tube that goes into a bucket of foam, it sucks the foam from the bucket into the hoseline at the other end of the device, and oila !!…you have foam…sometimes they can clog up over years of no usage and then when you need them, they wont work…

24 Damon & John Wayne Move Closer



24A  Damon & John Wayne Move Closer

 …and while it may appear that several minutes are going by here between frames, I was actually shooting quite rapidly so these images are only seconds apart…


25 Damon & John Wayne Move In


26 Damon & John Wayne Move In


27 Damon & John Wayne Move In


…the bad thing about waiting for foam to begin to work through the pump and into the hoselines… is the wait time…. possibly due to trying to figure out the right percentage to dial in at the pump to produce a concentrated enough amount for it to work and knock down the fire.

Sometimes the pump operator is left alone at the truck and has his hands full with several details critical to maintaining water flow to the hoselines alone…. in this case, Nolan was helping to set up a water supply to back up the one thousand gallon tank on the truck and the work involved in setting up a drop tank or nursing operation for tankers can be alot of work for one guy, a big reason the job of driving and operating a truck is taken for granted by so many firefighters who would rather be on the nozzle and entering the burning building, where the action is at….believe me, there is quite a bit of work and action involved in operating a truck, too. Many would argue tho, that the real action is on the nozzle.

It was obvious when finally the foam began to activate and become more effective in controlling the flames….

28 Switching to Foam Now

…much to everyone`s relief, I`m sure….

29 BFD Still Waiting On Water

…and Bourbon`s lone hoseman finally gave up waiting for the line to be charged and joined the fight with Damon and John….no doubt that Bourbon was experiencing problems either at the pumper or more likely with the foam eductor, which is a common problem with thousands of fire departments…..

30 BFD Hoseman Helps

….and as John began applying foam to the fire near and past the dumpster, it became apparent to most of us on the sidelines, that the fire was now gaining a foothold inside the building from the heavy amount of black smoke coming from the east end of the structure….

32 Fire Now Sweeps Thru Bldg

…and it was apparent that this fight would continue for some time into the afternoon….…soon after,  another hoseline was stretched by crews from Bourbon Fire Department to provide a safety line or second attack line, and they joined Sullivan firefighters working under the huge black smoke cloud on the east side of the building to attack the heavy balls of high flames….

32B  Bourbon Crews Man a Line

…and soon crews were sporadically out of sight within the huge smoke cloud that enveloped everything on the east end of the building…

32B  Fire Escalates Thru Bldg

…where heavy fire could still occasionally be seen when the wind cooperated and slacked off to allow the heavy black and brown smoke to lift higher….

33A  Fire Rages Inside Seeks Escape

…and it was now very apparent that there was heavy fire inside the building, as the fire was venting on the south side through a vent high up on the wall at the southeast corner. By this time, several departments were on scene assisting with fire suppression and water supply, many responding with both tankers and pumpers to the scene, some bringing foam with them as well. St Clair and Bourbon Fire Departments initially responded pumpers to attack the fire at both ends of the building, supplying water to firefighters manning hoselines and  tankers shuttling water back to the scene from hydrants….

45 First Alarm Companies On Scene

Sullivan had two pumpers operating, 854 at the front of the building and 814 at the back of the building and operating a deck gun into the building from the northwest corner. New arriving firefighters from other departments were now assisting and replacing first in crews, who were able to report to rehab to get checked by ambulance personnel and take a twenty to thirty minute break from firefighting. With the second alarm, there were also now three ambulances on scene.

The fire continued to grow inside the building and there was a raging fire on the northeast corner that was only visible from time to time when the wind slacked off and the heavy black smoke lifted enough to see underneath it….

33C  Fire Rages Inside Seeks Escape


34 Bldg Well Involved Now

…by this time, Bourbon firefighters in the heavy smoke cloud on the east end of the building, had switched out with fresh crews, who repositioned their hoseline to the northeast corner and were attacking the heavy fire load there…

34B  Firefighters Take Another Stand


34C  Firefighters Take Another Stand


34CC  Firefighters Take Another Stand

…it was obvious there was heavy fire there, but as heavy and dark as the smoke was, it was extremely difficult to see exactly what was burning in front of them, and at times, the flames were very high above them as well….

34E  BFD  Firefighters Take Another Stand


34F  BFD  Firefighters Take Another Stand


34GG  BFD  Firefighters Take Another Stand

 I was advised by a Bourbon firefighter that this is Bourbon`s crew of Cody Leasor, Rick Fongemie, and Captain John Thacker on the hoseline….

34J  BFD  Firefighters Take Another Stand


34K  BFD  Firefighters Take Another Stand

…they had their hands full for quite some time there, putting up with all the ever changing acrid smoke conditions and heavy fire all the way across the east wall of the building, as well as several obstacles to move around, many of which couldnt be seen from my position until the smoke finally cleared off later on…they did a great job and held their ground well….

34M  Firefighters Hold & Attack


34N  Firefighters Hold & Attack

35A  Bldg Well Involved Now


36B  Firefighters Hold & Attack East End


36C Firefighters Hold & Attack East End

 …after a few more minutes, Damon and John Wayne returned from rehab, and joined up with Bourbon`s crew on the line….

38 Firefighters Hold & Attack East End

…where they continued to hold their position at the east end and attack the heavy fire….

39A  Firefighters Hold & Attack East End

…at this point, I decided to walk around to the west side of the building and see what was going on over there…as more firefighters were walking into the east end to switch out with crews there….

40 Southwest Corner of Bldg

…and saw more firefighters stretching out another hoseline on the southwest side of the building….

41 West Side Bldg

…I spotted pumper 814 on the northwest corner still flowing water through the deck gun into the building….

42 West Side 814 Using Deck Gun

…and diesel fuel, foam, and water heavily flowing across the parking lot at this point toward the creek…soon after, an employee was able to access a front end loader at the back of the building and dam the flow a little ways to the west of the building, and keep it from reaching the creek….

44 Manning Another Line West Side

Not wanting to cross the wide flow of diesel fuel, I then walked back  around to the east side and climbed up to the parking lot of the church on the other side, to get a better viewpoint of the firefighting efforts on the east end of the building…Bourbon`s crews were working hard and able to get a handle on the large amount of heavy fire coming from the northeast corner of the building…


46A  Crews on NE Corner

…they soon repositioned their line to better attack the flames at the corner….late afternoon sunlight streaming in from behind them hampered my efforts of getting photos but I managed to block out the light with the smoke cloud to capture some good action…

47 Crews on NE Corner Fighting

48 BFD Crews On NE Corner


49A   BFD Crews Attack Trailer Fire


49C   BFD Crews Attack Trailer Fire

..and the next photos show the bigger picture of things….

50A  NE Corner

…it was obvious that heavy fire still controlled the building, likely due to the fuel feeding the fire, and suppression efforts would continue on…my nap was now toast….

51A  Fire Rolls Out Garage Door


51B Bourbon Crews East End


51E  Bourbon Crews East End

…once they had the garage door cooled down, they were able to turn their attention to the box trailer sitting on the northeast corner that was producing so much fire….

52 BFD Crew Attacks Trailer


52C  BFD Crew Attacks Trailer


53 Crews Continue Attack on Trailer


53A   Crews Continue Attack on Trailer


53B   Crews Continue Attack on Trailer

…and the next photo looks like a fire breathing dragon raring up and spitting fire out……

53D Fire Dragon Rares Up At Bourbon Crews

…not sure what happened after this photo, but the smoke sure did increase as well as the fire load, making for some dramatic fire suppression photos though….



55 BFD Crews In Thick Blk Smoke


56 BFD Crews Fighting Heavy Fire


56C   BFD Crews Fighting Heavy Fire


56F   BFD Crews Fighting Heavy Fire


56E   BFD Crews Fighting Heavy Fire



…eventually the heavy smoke lifted and firefighters approached the trailer to better access the flames….

58 Firefighters Approach Heavy Fire


59 Firefighter Approach Heavy Fire

…I took off shortly after that…most of the fire knocked down and well under control by then…and I needed to get home and prepare for work, minus my nap…took this last photo as I was walking by the trucks….

Marko Takes It All In

We definitely appreciate all the departments who came to our aid on Friday, with manpower, equipment, trucks, water, and foam.

Trailer Fire Hwy WW Person Possibly Inside…

The fire tones dropped the other night and the dispatcher advised of a trailer on fire a few miles down Hwy WW from the North Service Road……I was already headed to bed, having taken a pain pill for my back and removed a contact to rest my eyes. I jumped up and popped a contact in… hearing sirens pass my house and knew someone else was headed to Station One to get a truck, so I grabbed my camera and took off for the fire…it was cold out and I was glad I had grabbed my heavy  jacket. I crossed the interstate on the Elmont Bridge and looked east to see if the pumper was anywhere close…I could hear its Q siren but didnt see it at all, so I turned to the service road and then headed west toward Hwy WW, still no sign of the pumper, so I figured maybe they were ahead of me…I turned down Hwy WW and listened to County Dispatch trying to talk to someone on the scene…someone having radio problems reaching Dispatch and then the ambulance crew intervened on the radio and relayed for them…as I topped the hill on the far north side near Joe Eye`s farm, I looked in my rearview mirror and saw Pumper 854 turning on to Hwy WW….nearly a mile behind me and so I continued on…as I rounded the last left hand curve on WW, I could see a faint glow in the night sky and figured this was going to be at the small trailer court near the end of the highway. As I pulled up on the scene, exactly where I thought it would be located, I chose to park in the ditchline on the right side of the highway and about one hundred feet before the turnoff to the trailer park….off the road as far as I could, my right wheels sinking into soft ground there…I remember hoping I wouldnt need a pull to get out when I left…..and walked up the road to find firefighter Marko Turner on the scene and the trailer fully involved….   01 Heavily Involved on Arrival     …with heavy fire rolling out the west end window and front door on the north side of the trailer. Marko was the one trying to talk to County Dispatch earlier…to let them know that someone might be inside the trailer…information given to him on his arrival a few minutes prior to mine.   03 Heavy Fire Blowing Out     A few minutes went by before the pumper arrived behind me, they came up the hill and nosed into the driveway off the trailer park road while I continued to take a few photos….I turned and assisted Driver Bill Windham as he pulled into the driveway….   05 Heavy Fire Rolling Out     …the yard area grass was waist high and just about every imaginable plastic and metal toy known to man, was strewn all over the place among the weeds…you really had to be careful where you stepped. The crew on 854 pulled an attack line off the truck, a Cleveland style load, designed to be pulled off in straps and once pressurized by the driver/pump operator, the hose will untangle itself and charge with water and pressure, ready to take inside and fight fire. At least, that`s the theory involved…I was standing up on a small hill in the yard, above the crew, watching as they masked up and prepared to attack the heavy fire which continued to roll out of the trailer….   07 Firefighters Prepare to Enter   11 Fire Continues to Roll     13 Ball of Fire out Front Door       …as the crew approaches the trailer in this next photo, you can see the amount of  junk and obstacles on the ground in front of them that they had to wade through in order to get to the trailer…Mike was having problems with his air mask as Gary bled air pressure from the hoseline thru the nozzle….   14 Gary and John Wayne Approach     …a few minutes later, Gary and John Wayne began their approach to the trailer door, Mike feeding them additional hoseline….now armed with information that no one was believed to be inside the trailer after all…   16 Gary and John Wayne on Approach     and it soon became obvious that Mike was experiencing problems with his air mask, so the crew slowed their response until he was able to remedy the situation….   19 Gary and John Wayne Masking Up     21 Gary and Crew Approach     24 Gary and Crew Approach     …Gary immediately began calling to Driver Bill Windham for more pressure on the line…the water coming out was little more than garden hose pressure, definitely not enough to enter a blazing structure fire…another firefighter and I, were relaying the request for more pressure from the truck crew to  Bill, using hand signals…due to Bill`s position at the pump panel, he was unable to see the truck crew…and he immediately dialed up the pressure on the hoseline, however the pressure was not increasing at the nozzle…   25 Gary and Crew Approach     …despite this, for whatever reason, Gary then started to attack the fire at the front window, at the west end of the trailer…. even with very little pressurized water coming from the nozzle still….   26 Gary and Crew Hit Front Window     …and then started toward the front door of the trailer, as heavy fire once again rolled out the door….   27 Gary and Crew Move To Front Door     …and no sooner did he and John Wayne start toward the front door on the north side of the trailer, did the fire begin to erupt from the west side window in fireball fashion once again….   29 Starting Toward Front Door     …and the crew, unable to gain a foothold near the door, backed off once again to attack the heavy fire coming from the west end window again…   31 Cooling Down Front End Again     …I stayed up on the hill as the crew moved back toward the front door once again…catching them silhouetted against the heavy flames from the door….   33 At The Front Door     34 At The Front Door     35 Heavy Fire Rolls Out Over     36 Heavy Fire Rolls Out & Over     …still obviously having pressure problems as they were not able to move forward against the tremendously heavy fire rolling out of the trailer door and windows…   38 Heavy Fire Rolls Out & Over     39 Heavy Fire Rolls Out & Over     41 Heavy Fire Rolls Out & Over     …and as you can see by the stream from the hoseline below, they still had very little pressure….   43 Against The Flames     46 Against The Flames     …eventually they decided to take a lower approach at the doorway and try once again to enter the trailer…   47 Trying to Enter Front Door     48 Trying to Enter Front Door     49 Trying to Enter Front Door     …and once again, unable to make any headway at the door, they backed away and hit the front window once again….


50 Cooling Front Down Again


51 Cooling Front Down Again


52 Cooling Front Down Again


54 Cooling Front Down Again


56 Cooling Front Down Again


…and here they were finally able to gain a stronghold after a tenacious fight with heavy fire and low hoseline pressure…


57 Attacking Other Side


58 Attacking Front Again


…and now they were able to return to the front door once more…


60 Smoke Banks Down


62 Smoke Banks Down    


..and as crews were making headway on the north side of the trailer, flames were intensifying on the south side of the trailer near an add on to the trailer, as well as underneath it…


64 Fire Builds On Other Side


66 Fire Builds On Other Side


68 Fire Builds On Other Side



with the arrival of Pumper 814, followed soon after by Bourbon`s pumper and tanker, Sullivan`s next crew of arriving junior firefighters pulled a two and a half inch hoseline and manned it on the south side of the trailer after several of us unraveled and straightened it out….


70 Kyle, Nick, and Sam on Line



71 Kyle, Nick, and Sam on Line


…and Bourbon`s pumper crew assisted first in removing junk….


72 Sean and Crew Remove Junk



…and then in removing the siding of the trailer, in order to get at the fire behind the wall on the south side of the trailer…


74 Bourbon FFs Assisting



76 Sullivan Keeps Bourbon Cool



…I walked around to Pumper 854 again and as I walked up on the right side of it, talking to Jay Arnold, Bill came around the truck and we found the initial hoseload all jammed up with severe kinks in the line…we all three reached down and grabbed the line and straightened it out…this was the cause of low pressure at the nozzle for the pumper crew….by this time, much of the fire was knocked down and I decided to head back to the house and hit the hay after a very long day….I was sure glad, no one turned out to be inside this trailer.

Shed Fire at Cavern City Hideout

A couple of weeks ago, Sullivan was dispatched to a building fire at Cavern City Hideout near Stanton…I arrived shortly after the lead pumper pulled up and saw that it was a shed fire, attached to a residence which used to double as a restaurant and motel office…attached by way of a carport cover of sorts, that covered an outdoors wood furnace and two woodpiles..ashes left in a wheelbarrow caught the woodpiles on fire which caught the shed on fire by way of radiated heat from the wood piles, which also melted  the vinyl siding on the residence and would have caught the house on fire, but one of our Stanton firefighters was closeby when the alarm sounded. Jim Bay arrived shortly after the tones dropped and was able to knock down the residential fire from the radiated heat, prior to the arrival of others…

01 On Arrival


02 Jim Bay Keeps Fire At Bay


04 Jim Bay Keeps Fire At Bay


06 Shed and Woodpile on Fire


07A   Jim Bay Assists Firrefighters

…in fact, Jim stayed on the garden hoseline and cooled the wood pile down as firefighters waited for water so they could concentrate on the shed fire….

09 Firefighters Wait For Water

…Jimmy Smythe arrived a little later and donned his gear and helped cool down the shed wall near the wood pile as interior firefighters continued to attack the fire inside the shed….

13 Jimmy Smythe Cools Down Shed Wall

…and made a good stop on the shed itself…stopping the fire inside and saving quite a bit of equipment inside it….

14 Fire Under Control

… the juniors did a good job pulling apart the woodpile and totally extinguished that fire….

15 Jrs Overhaul Wood Pile

Ray Enloe on the Hoseline

I dont get a good chance to photograph Ray Enloe very often at fire calls, as he is normally the Engineer on the Pumper or Tanker at the scene, but last week I was able to photograph him on the red line at another grass fire in the district…this one accidentally ignited by a welding operation at a private farm. Ray and his crew, Davey Sumpter and Dave Konyss were standing out in the grassy field while Ray sprayed down smoldering cowpatties….

Reinhold Farms Ray on Hose 0806

House Fire Anthonies Mill Resort

For one family from the St Louis area, Friday the 13th didnt bode well for their lake house south of Bourbon at Anthonies Mill Lake. Sullivan FPD received a call to assist Bourbon Fire District with  house fire there, and at the time of the call, it was raining cats and dogs. I loaded Missy up into my truck and drove out to the lake location, having been there several times before for photo shoots and to photograph the area for the owner. We were a few minutes behind the pumper and ahead of the tanker, but drove cautiously due to the torrential downpour. I remember hoping that the hard rain would soak into the ground rather than run off as a hard rainfall such as this would normally create. We desperately needed the moisture and I so hoped it would be a beneficial rainfall. I drove to Bourbon and turned south on N Hwy and the rain tapered off to a drizzle as I caught up to some slowpokes on the highway, who eventually turned off after a few excruciatingly slow traveled miles. I dont mind people driving slow, but 25 mph in a 55 mph zone is a little too slow in my book.

We eventually arrived at the lake subdivision and after talking to the gate guard, drove on around the lake to the turnoff to the residence on fire. I parked in a nearby driveway suggested by the guy directing traffic, as I didn`t want to be in anyone`s way, knowing tankers would be coming and going for water. I left the truck running with the ac on full blast for Missy, grabbed my camera and hoofed it down to the fire, and shot this one while walking up on it…

01 Roof Burned Away

...arriving moments after the Sullivan pumper crew arrived, who told me a few minutes later, that the roof was fully involved and falling in as they pulled up to the scene behind Bourbon and Potosi Fire District pumpers and tankers. Sullivan`s junior firefighters and one of the deputy chiefs were setting up two drop tanks for a water shuttle operation as I walked up….

27 Jrs Set Up Drop Tanks

..and Potosi`s pumper was pumping from the red drop tank, which was being fed by the yellow drop tank, which the tankers were dumping their water loads into and then departing for another load of water. There was a dry hydrant down by the boat launch near the dam, where the tankers were filling their tanks and then driving back to dump their loads into the drop tanks.

I walked on down to the house after saying hi to Sean Johnson, with Bourbon Fire District, who was in charge of the fire. I saw Jimmy Smythe, Gary Midgyett, and junior Louis Trombley, walking around the front corner of the residence, taking a look at the heavy fire still inside the ground floor of the house and checking out the fire enveloping the wood encased chimney on the west side of the house…

02 Louie, Jimmy, and Gary in Front


06 Front NW Corner Burns


Louie was waiting out in front as Gary and Jimmy decided on the best course of action in attacking the flames still inside the house…

08A  Guys in Front of House

…eventually deciding to try and cool the flames down and hopefully enter the house once that occurred….

09A  Gary and Jimmy Try to Gain Access

..I walked around the back of the house and found firefighters back there from Potosi and Bourbon, looking at the partial collapse from the upper story and the glow of fire still inside the basement….

12 Back of the House

…funny how the flash shows one thing and the next photo, without flash, shows a bit more fire and glow involved…

13 Back of the House

and then the use of flash again to light up the firefighters….

14 Watching the Back

…eventually firefighters picked up the hoseline and moved up closer to hit the hotspots….

15 Cooling Down Hotspots


16 Hotspot in Back

..then walked back up front to see that Sullivan had the front of the house cooled down quite a bit now…

17 Front is Cooled Down Now

…but one could still see some fire inside the home about the middle of the structure….

21 Hotspots in Front

…however, they eventually decided to enter the house through a bedroom window on the east side via a ladder……at this point, I observed what appeared to be another storm approaching from the northwest, with lightning popping off every few seconds…I decided to take off….shot this last one as I was walking back to the truck….

29 Potosi Pumper Drafts


What Fireworks in the Wrong Hands and Minds…

..can create…a barn fire…well almost…last week Sullivan answered a page for a house fire, assisting Bourbon Fire District, and the address given was on Butler Pond Road, between Sullivan and Bourbon, however the address given was wrong. After making two extra trips up the road, the right information was given by radio and we drove up the driveway to an abandoned farmhouse and barn to find the hayloft in the upper story of the barn ablaze and tall grass  outside the barn on fire as well. The Sullivan pumper crew, with several junior firefighters on board, pulled the hoseline and attacked the tall grass and discarded furniture burning near the barn….

01 Grass on Fire on Arrival


03 Extinguishing Grass Fire

…while Bourbon`s crews attacked the hayloft fire in the barn and debris on fire outside the barn loft….

04 BFD Handles Barn Loft Fire

…of a nice old barn, dating back at least sixty to eighty years old or more to the days of the Nolie Farm family from what I was told, prior to the days owned and operated by Meramac Nursery….

05 Putting Out Fire By Barn


Airport Field Fire…..In Harms Way….

Saturday afternoon, I was returning home from rockhunting and about to make the turn on to my street to go home and unload the goodies from the truck, when we were paged out for a field fire at the Sullivan Airport. I looked in that direction and saw a huge cloud of heavy white and brown smoke, so decided to go over and snap a few photos if they didnt need any help, and then go home and unload the rocks.

As I was heading that way, I flipped my pager over to open channel to monitor radio traffic and heard several units responding to the call. I knew they had training that morning so figured there would be a good response and there was, many were at Station Five still, so only half a mile from the airport. As I turned on to Hwy AF, I heard one of the officers state that they could handle the fire with two units already on scene and everyone else could disregard. I looked at the huge cloud again, and thought to myself, this I have to see…so as I pulled into the airport road entrance off AF, this is what I saw….

01 Large Column of Heavy Smoke

…I drove on down around the buildings to the hangar entrance area and saw that most of the trucks had entered from the hangar near ARCH, so I drove on down and parked next to Pumper 814. I made sure my ac was on high for Missy and grabbed my camera and walked around to the passenger side of 814 and started shooting photos of the head of the fire, which was burning toward the north, toward the runway…..

03 Head of Fire Races Tow Runway

…I could see that the grass had been recently cut and was brown and dry, so it was burning pretty hot and heavy out there…I saw one of our red brush units in the burn area near the head of the fire, but they didnt seem to be attacking the head of the fire at all….

04 Head of Fire Brush Crew Inside

…another of our units was down along the rear line of the fire, and the jeep, unit 898, was nearest to me, on the west side of the fire. I thought that was highly unusual since we are trained to get to the head of the fire as soon as possible and attack it first, and none of the three units were doing that….

05 Head of Fire

…the fire started growing in intensity, it was moving up a slight hill toward the runway and so it was burning hotter as it climbed the hill….

06 Head of Fire Races North

….the flames were getting higher too…

07 Head of Fire Races North

….pretty soon ahead though, it would hit a swale and slow back down….

09 Head of Fire Spreads

..Casey was driving 814 and came over to me and we talked about the fact that no one was taking care of the head of the fire, so he radioed Command and advised him that the head of the fire needed to be attacked with a brush unit soon because the flames were approaching the runway…I had moved off to shoot a few extra photos and then Casey asked me to join him in the pumper, he had been ordered to drive the pumper out and attack the head of the fire. I was amazed as we dont normally do this with pumpers…we use our pumpers mainly as a base for water, for the brush trucks to return to and refill their tanks with water, then return and fight fire…Casey wanted me to operate the pump while he hosed down the fire.

He cut across the field in front of us since it was dry and the ground would support a heavy truck, we had four tons of water on board alone. We were asked later why we didnt drive down the runway, and my answer was that we didnt know if the runway had been shut down to air traffic…it had been requested to be shut down by radio, but we had no confirmation that it had been done…so he drove out and parked the pumper about seventy to a hundred feet from the fireline…I climbed out of the passenger side and as I did, I noticed a shrill whistle from the pump indicating some type of alarm….I climbed up into the driver seat and confirmed Casey had set the air brakes and I then set about to place the truck into pump, activating an electronic two lever switch and I usually hear a sound that indicates the truck has switched over to pump once you activate the switch, but I didnt hear that sound…the green light came on at the switch indicating the truck is now in pump, but that doesnt always confirm anything…after placing the transmissing into drive, I got out and climbed up on the crossover and pulled the levers to pump water from the tank to the front preconnect hoseline, which Casey had pulled and was waiting for water at the nozzle…the fire was about fifty feet away at this point…and I started throttling up the pump.

The third indication to me that something was wrong, was when I looked around the cab and saw Casey still waiting for water with a limp hoseline in his hands…by now water and air pressure should have charged that hoseline and he should have been opening the nozzle to bleed off the air pressure, but he was still waiting for water. I now had confirmation that the pump wasnt working and probably hadnt been working since he arrived at least, possibly before that, and that was confirmed later for me as well. Casey dropped the hoseline and yelled to everyone to clear the truck, and he made one last ditch effort to jump in the cab, disengage the pump and move the truck out of harms way…but the fire raced up with a gust of strong wind, and the super heated air  and smoke overtook him and the truck way too fast, and we abandoned ship and ran for the runway…..

10 Pumper 814 Overtaken By Fire


…luckily no one was hurt, there were only four of us up there at the time, one junior firefighter who remained relatively calm for his first big fire and three of us senior firefighters, and thats always the main thing, safety of our personnel. The fire quickly raced under and around the truck, the flames under the truck were not very high, not over a foot high and didnt get any higher than that until the fire reached the north side of the truck and hit open space once again….

11 Pumper 814 Overtaken by Fire

…within a few seconds the fire raced past the truck and the smoke lifted, and I tapped Casey on the shoulder and pointed out that the truck was still there in one piece, and we walked over to check it out….

12 Fire Races Past 814

..Jimmy and his crew in 858 came up and hosed down the truck tires and undercarriage with a fog stream from the brush truck, and hot spots around the truck, as we were checking it out….and made sure everyone was okay. We started taking inventory of the damage…old Glory hanging off the back of the hosebed was melted down and singed…

17 Flag Melted Down

the front preconnect hoseline was burning out in front of the pumper, a fire helmet was melted down, and some belts and wires were hanging down under the truck`s undercarriage….

14 Pumper 814 Still There

We rolled up the windows on the truck as there were still alot of super heated embers flying around and we didnt need a fire inside the cab, and then we walked away to let things settle down and try to cool down ourselves…

Jimmy and his crew headed east toward Acid Mines Road to join up with other brush units, as the wind changed direction and was now gusting solid and pushing the fire to the east…..

16 Preconnect Burns As Fire Races East Now

…..flames could be seen jumping out ahead of the fire line as embers were blown way out in front of the fire as it moved east toward the Catholic Cemetery and heavy wooded areas, as the fire moving across the field literally exploded in intensity and strength….

13 Field Fire Explodes in Strength

 …with some flames seen as high as fifteen to twenty feet high….

15 Flames 20 Feet High

Nolan came along with the jeep and tied up loose ends near the runway…..

18 Jrs Assist Jeep Crew

…with junior firefighters raking behind them, before driving on down the runway to fill their water tank and then rejoin the brush units down at the east end of the airport property.  As Casey and I waited for things to cool down, additional brush units began arriving after Command called for a brush first alarm. After the smoke and embers cleared, Casey and I returned to the pumper and rolled the windows back down to clear out the smoke and dust from the cab. Casey tried to see if the truck was driveable, however could only get it to back up and the brakes didnt seem to be working well, so he chocked the wheel and we waited for Chuck to arrive with this big wrecker.  I continued to photograph the progress of the fire on the east side of the airport while we were waiting….

19 Crews Race to Contain Fire

…and looking to the southeast, where the fire was consuming tall grass not cut yet, flames were twenty to thirty feet high and approaching woods as well….

20 High Flames Quarter Mile Southeast



…we found out while cooling down that the fire started as a result of hay cutting…the airport fields are contracted out to individuals for the hay and the guy cutting the grass to bale hay, hit a rock and sparked the blaze.

Crews were able to bring the fire on the east side under control with water eventually and began moving back across the tall grass on the southeast side….

23 Crews Respond to South Side Now


24 Crews Hit South Side Fire

….on approach to the south flank where flames were high as the fire moved through the tall grass….

25 Fire Crews Attack South Side


26 South Side Flames

…the jeep crew soon refilled, once again drove across and joined the effort to bring the south flank under control….

27 Jeep Refilled Joins The South Attack

…which by this time, the wind had shifted once again and was pushing the fire toward the wooded areas once again….

29 East and South Side

…so that between the wind and the fuel load, the high dry grass, the fire load was unbelievably high on the south line in no time at all, and crews had their hands full once again….by this time, Bourbon and St Clair Fire Departments were on scene as well and joined in the fight….

31 Heavy Smoke Cloud Dominates Brush Truck


33 Heavy Smoke Cloud Dominates Brush Crews


34 Fire Under Control Now

…and pretty soon, Chuck`s Towing arrived and safely transported Pumper 814 back home…..

35 Chuck Taking Care of 814

All in all, about twenty acres burned up, no injuries occurred, no lives were lost, and airport delays were minimized, and damage to fire equipment is yet to be determined, as there were a few other trucks there that day that had problems afterwards. However, that is why departments and districts carry insurance on personnel and equipment.


Fire in Bed of Pickup Truck Flying J Truckstop

Yesterday, while everyone was at Bourbon helping them with the big brush fire, Missy and I got up about 2 pm to go run on the treadmill at the fire station and as we were heading out the driveway, my pager sounded and we were kicked out to a truck fire at Flying J Truckstop, reported to be near the pumps. I started instead toward Station One to get the pumper, but two blocks up the road, the pumper went enroute, so I turned around and headed direct to the truck stop. I arrived shortly behind the pumper and pulled up to find Junior Firefighters Drew Osborn and Stetson Zelch attacking the small fire in the bed of the dodge pickup, which was not near the pumps thankfully….

Stetson and Drew Extinguish Fire 2

..with Larry Flesher, our Deputy Chief, supervising their efforts. Following their training protocols, they were properly attired in protective gear and wearing air packs as well, and they worked well as a team….

Stetson and Drew Extinguish Fire

Drew grabbed a pike pole and took care of overhaul work while Stetson cooled down the bed liner and wheel wells….

Drew Overhauls

…combining for teamwork, which is what all departments should strive for….



Drew Overhauls 3





Please Dont Burn If You Dont Need To Right Now….

…for those unaware or visiting Missouri these days, we are experiencing a severe dry period and approaching drought conditions of extremes due to a lack of rainfall and higher than normal heat temps during the day, so please dont be burning anything and be careful with open flames and cigarette butt and ash disposals. Fire departments across the state are responding to and fighting alot of brush fires and a few departments in this area are dealing with arsonists running around setting fires no less. We assisted Bourbon Fire Department yesterday with a brush fire that got up to about thirty acres and our guys were telling me today, that tall and bushy cedar trees were crowning fully involved like firecrackers all around them. I have been in a few of those types of brush fires and it can be a little unnerving. They were up at that Bourbon fire from 10 am to 4 pm.

We also assisted Bourbon with a farm field fire a few days ago where about ten acres burned along with twenty five large round bales of hay, and one of the barns nearby was threatened for a short time as well. The photos below show our personnel and Bourbon`s crews mopping up the fires….

01 Farm Essman Dunn Rd


02 Farm Essman Dunn Rd


03 Assisting Bourbon


05 Sullivan Jr`s Hard At Work

 …and then came home to find an overheated or tired squirrel in my walnut tree behind my carport….

06 Tired Squirrel in Tree by Carport