House Fires and Cold…

Well we have had a bit of colder weather recently and a few house fires to keep us a bit busy…as I was driving home this morning from work, my pager started talking about fifteen miles out of town…my department was fighting a cabin on fire at the east edge of our district so I stopped by and took a few photos on my way home….when I walked up, I found the cabin on the ground and Bill Windham on the hoseline….

Cabin on the Ground

Bill Standsy By On Line

Bill was standing by while others looked for flames in the dense white smoke lifting up like a soupy gray fog….

Looking for Fire

and then when a hot spot of flames was found, someone with a hoseline would pounce on it….

Hitting a Hot Spot


St Clair Mans Line you can see, not much of a structure left at all, lightning strike someone on scene thought….here our guys are enveloped in smoke clouds looking for hot spots…

Searching for Hot Spots

…and then they found a few hot spots and flame areas in those clouds of smoke at their feet….

Fire Located

…and finding hot spots and dousing them down…

Jrs Spray down Hot Spots

And then we had one just last week a few blocks from my house…discovered by our new waste hauler, Swinger Sanitation of Cuba, who were coming by on their normal pickup route and found the east wall on fire….

854 Arriving Small Flames in Window

Pumper 854 arriving and flames in window by chimney…

Gary and Nolan Unravel the Hose

Gary and Nolan unraveling the hose load and getting ready to enter…

Smoke Vents Out the Back

…here smoke vents out the front door and back door too….luckily we contained it to the east wall where it began….

Tractor Trailer Fire….

Sunday night, August 1st, I was trying to begin to catch up on the site when we were toned out for a tractor trailer fire…so I grabbed my camera and Missy and I headed for the truck…I heard the pumper and tanker respond and another driver waiting for a crew so I decided to go direct….we caught up to the tanker on the interstate a few miles out of town and I could see the pumper ahead of it a mile or two, and a heavy cloud of dark brown smoke looming above the pumper in the distance against the night sky…….we got on the scene and I parked in a driveway off the Service Road just past the old Kovacs Restaurant and grabbed my flashgun and walked across the road…helped Engineer Ray Enloe pull the hoseline and straighten the kinks out, and turned on my flash, and took the first shot of the tractor cab fully involved as the guys were bleeding the air out of the line and getting ready to attack the fire…

Trctr Trlr WB 44 232 0801 Fully Involved

Dave and Gary bled the air from the hoseline and approached the tractor on fire….

Trctr Trlr WB 44 232 0801 Dave and Gary Approach

and started attacking the flames from the Service Road side…

Trctr Trlr WB 44 232 0801 Dave & Gary Attack Fire


Trctr Trlr WB 44 232 0801 Crew Attacks Cab Fire


I turned my flash off for the next shot….


Trctr Trlr WB 44 232 0801 Crew Knocks Down Fire

and as St Clair pulled up on the opposite side and stopped traffic, their cab lights cast a pinkish glow on the smoke and steam….

Trctr Trlr WB 44 232 0801 Cab Burns


Trctr Trlr WB 44 232 0801 Crew Works Forward


Trctr Trlr WB 44 232 0801 Crew Works Forward 2

St Clair provided a crew to assist and even with the flashgun I was able to capture some neat smoke and motion images…

Trctr Trlr WB 44 232 0801 Cab Smokes and Glows


Trctr Trlr WB 44 232 0801 Cab Smokes Heavily


Trctr Trlr WB 44 232 0801 Cab Glows and Smokes

and pretty soon it was under control and we were able to release a lane of backed up westbound traffic….

Trctr Trlr WB 44 232 0801 Under Control


Trctr Trlr WB 44 232 0801 Crews Extinguish Cab

and there wasn`t much left of the cab and motor….

Trctr Trlr WB 44 232 0801 Not Much Left

Long week…

Its been a long week folks, and I was in the midst of getting caught up last Thursday morning when my dad called and told me to turn on the tv to channel two news…which is usually not a good sign of things to come, last time that happened, one of our firefighters was shot and killed in one of the cities I dispatch at, and two of our police officers shot and wounded at Maplewood…so I turned on the news and for the next three hours sat glued to it watching a very horrific accident scene unfold on I-44, just twenty miles east of me on a stretch that I drive to work three or four days a week. I knew the firefighters that were there and work with one of them at my dispatch center, so I texted him to see if he was there and confirm it was as bad as it looked on tv….


…Kurt said it was one of the worst ones Boles FPD had worked in a long time…over fifty schoolkids on two buses, one bus catapulted up in the air and the front of it resting on the cab of a semi truck pulling no trailer, a second bus had plowed into the back of the first bus heaviy, and then underneath one could barely make out a vehicle of unknown make and model, that appeared to be rolled up into a ball of twisted metal…you could see that firefighters had their hands full on arrival and had laid down a layer of foam as a precaution I`m sure, for a ruptured fuel tank, there was a ladder up against the side of the first bus and firefighters and medics were attending to several injured kids on the side of the interstate and in a shady area on the service road to the south side of I-44. It was definitely a bad accident scene and one of those that you never forget no matter how much one tries…


….I immediately stopped what I was doing and prayed for strength and comfort for those that were injured and hurt as well as the responders and law enforcement there working the scene…it was already hot that morning and firefighters and medics on scenes like that, wear heavy fire gear and protective clothing to keep them safe, so I knew they were gonna need as much help as they could get to safely do their jobs too. I texted Kurt again and asked him how the firefighters were holding up and he replied….hot but making it…..they had a job to do and they knew it, but thats what firefighters know and do all the time, its what we train for all the time and prepare for, but no amount of training can prepare one for this type of sight when you round the bend and there it is in front of you on arrival, either. Channel Two News was the first on the scene and provided coverage initially from the air with their skyzoom copter….






…and then later placed a reporter on the ground, which by then, there were reporters on scene from Channel Five News as well… my friend Jeff Small had arrived by then and was covering it on the ground from the east end and north side of the interstate…which gave us a view from that side and showed the expansive backup of eastbound traffic to the west….



School Bus Accident


….I later found out that several kids who were not injured but very frightened, had fled the buses and ran to the west and through the maze of vehicles backed up behind the scene, in fear that the strong odor of gasoline would catch fire and blow up, and thankfully several concerned travelers caught in the backup were able to slow and stop the fleeing children and convince them to get into their vehicles, in out of the heat and into safer environments until help could arrive. Several firefighters and medics made the walk west along the eastbound lanes and retrieved the children after arrival and took them to a waiting charter bus, provided by Mid America Coaches, who responded at the request of Fire Command, and later transported the non injured children safely to one of the St Louis area hospitals for treatment and checkup, which is routine in a situation like this.

I sat there for three hours watching this all unfold on tv and talking to Kurt about it, listening to the reporters as they heard from witnesses, and people driving by, and others who saw this and described the vehicle under the bus as first a car, then an suv, then a trailblazer suv silver in color…..then I suddenly received an email from my mom telling me that a good friend of ours, a fellow firefighter,  had just discovered that his grandson was driving the pickup that was trapped under the first bus, it was a full size Z71 silver pickup that was rolled into a ball practically from the impact of the first bus crashing into the back of it and then finally resting on top of it….my friend`s grandson was trapped within it…there had been initial reports of two fatalities and most like me, presumably, had figured both fatalities were likely the driver and presumed passenger in the vehicle under the bus….it later turned out that Daniel was alone in the pickup truck and the other fatality was on the first bus, a young band student sitting near the back of that bus.  Again I said a quick prayer for those involved and the families of those involved and the responders as well as their families and all of those involved in the incident, cause there are always people in the background that work these types of incidents and it can be just as stressful to them as to those actually on the scene. I relayed that info to Kurt as well and he told me that they had cut the truck open to retrieve Daniel from the pickup…he was joined by another chaplain from their department and they were going to say prayers for the families at that time….


Even though I didnt know Daniel personally,  had never met him or talked to him, I knew his parents well, his grandfather is a close family friend and firefighter family friend as well, and I knew of his exploits in the area, having been a gifted athlete in football, baseball, and basketball for the past four years of high school, and he walked on to the Mizzou Tigers team last year and became a backup quarterback for them. Not many people can do that, walk on to a major college like that with quarterback abilities and fit right into things like he did. I had heard from several people that he had a throwing arm like a rifle, his aim was generally right on target and he had an impressive passing and rushing record. I went to a few of the Eagles football games in the past few years, difficult to do on my schedule of working nights, mainly on request, to provide some coverage for our local paper`s sports section, but always enjoyed watching and shooting the game.  He made it enjoyable from the sidelines throwing passes and carrying the ball and advancing the team down to the goal line. Never met and talked to him, but never ever heard a bad word from anyone about the boy, either.  Very nice, polite and kind and courteous….which didnt surprise me at all, knowing well who his parents are, two of the nicest people one would ever want to know in this area, and both come from good families and backgrounds as well.

The visitation was well attended, over two thousand people visited with the family at the church and their home over the next few days, and he was buried on the family farm from a pretty hillside view of the valley that he frequently hunted and fished through his young years. Everyone was amazed at the effect one nineteen year old could have on the lives of so many, evidenced by the number that showed up for the visitation and funeral.  Family and friends are convinced though, had Daniel not been there at that time and place, to absorb the impact of the bus, many more lives could have been taken as well, had the bus impacted the semi instead. And there is no doubt where Daniel is at now, hunting and fishing and playing football extensively in the Heavens above. One day we will see him again.



School Bus Accident

House/Barn Fire

Wow what a weekend…we were busy with accident calls on I-44 at the east end of town due to construction project backup, then were toned out for a vehicle on fire and seconds later, a house fire…as units were pulling up from Hwy WW on the west side of the district, it appeared to them that a barn was on fire, so the first in crew updated dispatch and advised this was a barn on fire…I was out on a shoot and driving in from the west, and was scanning the sky for heavy smoke but saw none, even though the first in crew reported heavy fire conditions and struck a second alarm.

I pulled up on the scene and figured out why, the smoke was staying low and going down the valley, not rising so much. This was an all metal structure with a barn/auto body shop on the northwest end and a house on the south east end of the structure, and heavy fire on both ends, so heavy on the body shop end that crews were unable to enter, and were aiming streams inside through a window and a doorway when I arrived.

Damon Holds Off Body Shop End  of Fire

As extra crews were arriving from Bourbon Fire District, the fire on the home end vented through a large vent near the peak of the roof, and so an extra line was stretched from Pumper 854 to the other end of the building….

FF`s Pull Hose to South End As Flames Vent Roof

I ran over and helped them stretch the line and as I rounded the far corner, this is what I saw….

Heavy Fire Rolls Out Vent Above Home End


Heavy Fire Vents 2nd Story Home End

….so Bourbon`s firefighters suited up and entered the home end of the building to locate the seat of the fire and extinguish it with the extra line, the red colored hoseline…

Heavy Fire Vents on House End

and as Bourbon`s firefighters entered the house, this is what I saw on the north side of the building…

FF`s Enter Home As Flames Roll Out Vent Above

…smoke rolling out of the north side and inset garage doors, where it was pointed out to us that there were a couple of antique restored cars inside, and if we could open those doors, we could rescue the cars…so we got our saw out and made a new door, since the doors were locked and bolted from the inside and the keys were naturally inside on a peg…

Cutting Their Way In to Rescue Antique Cars

where there`s a way, there`s a will, or something like that…they cut a hole big enough for a firefighter to get in and he unbolted the doors and voila !

FF`s Open Garage Doors from Inside


Smoke Clears to Reveal Antique Car

and so out the door came one car followed by a nice restored GTO…

Antique Car Rolled Out Garage Door

Antique Car Rolled Out of the Smoke

Once they freed the two cars, which only had a little smoke damage each, they were able to concentrate efforts on extinguishing the heavy fire up in the upstairs area, which had heavy rolling,  deepseated flames.  The fire upstairs was so heavy that interior crews were pulled out shortly after…despite the airhorns on the trucks sounding the get out of there now signal, one of the guys, Billy Harris, had to physically walk to the last man on the hoseline and relay the message in person.

Billy Harris Watches FF`s Enter Home and Heavy Fire

So once they were pulled out, they attacked the fire from outside where it was much safer, until it could be knocked down and made safer to enter again…

Attacking Fire Venting from 2nd Story Home End


FF`s Attack Upstairs Fire Again

Once it appeared it was down…firefighters stopped to check and could see it was rolling still, but on the south side….

Fire Rolls Above House and FF`s

so they redoubled efforts and resources this time and aimed the streams to the south side…

FF`s Double Up on Efforts to Extinguish Fire Above Home

..utilizing some of St Clair and Cuba`s firefighters to assist us in our efforts…trucks were stacking up out on Hwy WW so the roadway was shut down to normal traffic…

Cuba, Beautfort, and Gerald Pumpers Staging On Scene

Five fire departments represented in equipment here alone…the fire went to four alarms and nine fire departments responded with sixteen pieces of equipment to help us fight the fire…a massive tanker shuttle was started as well and Hwy WW was utilized for this operation as well…

814 Command Post and 8315 Drafts


Reflections and Teamwork

the alarm was initially received about 4 pm and our firefighters remained on scene til midnight, investigating with the assistance of the Missouri State Fire Marshals Office and extinguishing hot spots. Once the fire on the home end was knocked down, crews were able to enter from the auto  body end and extinguish the home end fire…

Looking Better on North End Finally

here Junior Firefighters, Kyle Arnold, is shown watching the doorway and feeding hose to interior firefighters at the auto body end…

Jr Chief Kyle Mans The Doorway

Eventually the owner was located and he arrived and conferred with crews on the auto body end about the extent of damage inside…

Damon Talks to Owner Bill Mattox

As I said, what a way to start the weekend….luckily no one was hurt.

Drug House Burns Up….

We had a house fire last week, fully involved on arrival and turned out to be a drug house, residents evicted a few days before by the bank who foreclosed on it, so they moved out and someone decided to torch it also. Was at the end of a dead end street for us, hydrant at the top of the hill on the main street, so we hand jacked a five inch supply line to the hydrant from the pumper, inadvertently trapped our police officers in doing so, and attempted to knock down the fire once we established a good water supply. Too bad our new pumper wouldnt cooperate and provide stability as well…never seen a truck so undependable and difficult to operate in all my years on the department…guess computers arent so great in all applications…

Front of the House From Street

this is what greeted us on arrival, closest I could get to the front as there were power lines down across the street to my immediate left. I stayed at this corner until Joe Thurmond arrived to take care of the electric and was able to remove the hazards. Next one is the front corner, where we started our attack.

Front Corner Of House Thru Bushes

From here, I walked thru the bushes and photographed our attack crew, Capt Dave Konys and Jimmy Smythe, as they assessed their point of entry and masked up, waiting for water from the pump operator, Capt Gary Midgett.  Two junior firefighters were on scene assisting with supply hose and retrieving tools for the guys as they prepared for entry.

Capt Dave Waits For Water

Here Capt Dave waits for water and for Jimmy to return with a pike pole, as a column of fire grows from the side door of the residence. Another view with a little help from the flash this time….

Capt Dave Waiting For Water Near Doorway

and this one without flash at all, silhouetting Dave against the flames somewhat….

Capt Dave Kneels Near Door


Heavy Fire Rolls Out Doorway

Jimmy got back with some tools and decided to mask up as they are still waiting for Gary to send water to them…

Capt Dave and Jimmy Wait For Water

and still waiting for water as the fire coming out the doorway increases in size and intensity….

Continuing to Wait For Water

Finally the hoseline is charged and the guys prepare to enter the residence…all during this time we have been hearing muffled explosions inside but on the other side of the home where all you can see if a wall of fire that has extended through the roof of the house…

Getting Ready To Enter

Finally the line charges and Capt Dave opens the nozzle and knocks down the heavy column of flame as they start to enter the doorway…

Going In

Jimmy motions to Gary at the pump, for more water pressure on the line as they enter the doorway, meeting up with tremendous fire and heat as evidenced above the roofline and doorway….

Jimmy Motions For More Pressure


Capt Dave and Jimmy Make Their Way In


Entering The House

this next photo shows the entire house silhouetted against the flames with Jimmy and Dave inside the doorway fighting fire, and EMT Danny is feeding hose at the doorway as well.

Capt Dave and Jimmy Inside Doorway

After a few minutes inside, they both back out and Dave goes to get a ceiling hook and pike pole, to see if they can get to more fire via the ceiling above the doorway.

Getting Ready to Enter Again

Dave gets back and heads to the front of the house with the pike pole while Jimmy sprays water inside the doorway. EMT Danny keeps an eye on them.

EMT Danny Keeps An Eye on the Guys

Capt Dave comes back and takes out the window to the right of the doorway, Jimmy is still spraying water inside.

Capt Dave Takes Out The Window

Jimmy is still inside, kneeling down and spraying water now when Dave enters the doorway again, this time armed with a ceiling hook…..

Entering the House Again


These guys make a great team fighting fire together often.

Jimmy and Dave Fight Fire

Dave hooks the ceiling to pull it down so Jimmy can get to more fire above them….

Jimmy Sprays Water Inside Doorway


Capt Dave Watches Jimmy Inside

Dave and Jimmy appear to be conferring about the fire above them just inside the doorway….

Dave and Jimmy Inside Doorway

Dave hooks more ceiling with the hook…

Capt Dave Hooking

and what they couldnt see from inside the doorway, we were able to see from just outside the doorway…heavy fire rolling across the roof toward them…

Heavy Fire Moves Toward FFs

Upon seeing this, EMT Danny went up to the door and told them to get out of there…

Danny Tells Dave and Jimmy To Get Out Now

and so they did, they backed out safely, still fighting fire as they came out the door…

Backing Out


Dave and Jimmy Going Inside

Heavy Flame Above The Doorway

Backed out completely away from the house safe and sound, better safe than sorry guys…

Backed Out and Safe

Shortly after backing out, assistance arrived in the form of the second in crew, which was Bourbon Engine 60 with a few guys and Bourbon Chief Daniel Whatley…Daniel had his crew assess the back wall of the house and prepare to attack flames here…

Second Crew Assesses Back Wall Area

Sullivan firefighter Casey Bridgeman got the chainsaw and made trench cuts on either side of the chimney on the backwall to give greater access to flames inside….

Casey Saws Back Wall and Bourbon Covers

As flames ate through the wood on the back walls, Bourbon firefighters manning the second hoseline attacked the fire from the back yard….

Second Crew Attacks Back Wall


Widening The Gap in Backyard Fence

In the meantime, I wandered up and photographed crews around the pumper, including EMT Jesse trying his best to get wet….


He stayed behind Gary and avoided getting wet here…but did move a little hoseline around later on…

Jesse Helps With 854

wet streets and emergency lights can make for great reflection photos as well as night time fire photos. St Clair and Bourbon firefighters assisted with overhaul and final extinguishment…

Bourbon and St Clair Assist in Pulling Wall Down

These guys did a great job and had things well in hand by this point, so I left shortly afterwards. The fire investigation determined the house was indeed set on fire and Sullivan Police Department apprehended the suspect later this week, suspected of setting another house on fire up near Cuba, Missouri as well. Kudos to the Police Department as well.

Border Collie Rescued Today…

I got back in time to see Sullivan firefighters rescue a nice yellow/white border collie dog today, that was stranded on an island out in the Meramac River, just south of Sullivan, near the State Park. He had been out on this island  for quite a while from the looks of him and was very hungry and anxious to get out of there, but was definitely hemmed in on all sides by high water. They attempted rescue yesterday but the air boat wouldn`t start so the crews returned today with the spare boat and made a great rescue of him. One of the area residents took him home and will take him to the adoption center in Sullivan tomorrow. Looked like he was dumped by someone.

Border Collie Stranded On Island Feb 4th

Border Collie Up Close

Border Collie Rescue Boat Driver Chris Wms

Border Collie Eating After Rescued