Fire in Trash Bin in Attached Shed Destroys 2-Story Apartment Building
The ashes hadn’t even cooled from a July 15 fire which destroyed a 12-unit apartment building when Boise, Idaho, Chief John Boros and Building Department Director Tim Hogland met to plan a modification in the local building code to keep large, truck-lift trash bins away from structures.
The point of origin at the Linden Arms complex, according to witnesses, was a 3-yard trash container next to the two-story structure. To further increase the fire danger, the metal box was enclosed in cedar shake shingles for aesthetic purposes. To top it off, a trash chute from the second floor acted as a chimney when smoldering material burst into flame about 11 a.m. that Sunday.
“We plan to change the building code as soon as possible, but in the meantime we are changing plans of buildings under construction,” said Boros.
Enclosures face ban
He said the new code will prohibit trash bins from being enclosed and also will likely include requirements for metal lids to be closed at all times. (They were open at Linden Arms.) Hogland and Boros also plan to require such containers be placed a safe distance from structures.
Fire officials said it was fortunate the blaze didn’t occur at night. As it turned out, most tenants were either at church, away for the weekend, or awake. No injuries were reported.
Four pumpers and about 25 fire fighters under the command of Battalion Chief Frank Hampton responded to the two-alarm blaze, which caused more than $250,000 damage. Fire fighters used 2 1/2-inch lines to protect exposures in an adjoining mobile home park, but the same lines were ineffective in battling the fire because hosemen on the ground couldn’t see where the streams were going over the roof of the apartment building.
Boros said the department’s only elevating platform was out of service for repairs at the time of the fire but would have been an ideal piece of equipment to use. Intense heat prevented fire fighters from getting within 20 feet of the fully engulfed building.
The heat was so intense around the wooden structure that nine late model cars parked about 30 feet away were heavily damaged. Windshields shattered and plastic dashboards and grills melted. Automatic transmissions locked in the park position prevented firemen and bystanders from pushing the vehicles away from the fire even if the doors happened to be unlocked.
Another apartment more than 40 feet from the blaze received minor heat damage when plastic shutters melted and paint blistered.
Photos by David R. Frazier