Firefighters Contend with Downed Power Lines at Miles City (MT) Structure Fire with Trapped Occupant

Firefighters advance a charged line in a yard as flames sear a pickup truck behind them.

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By Justin Russell

At 1531 hours on April 19, 2015, Miles City (MT) Fire Rescue was dispatched to residence on fire with a possible occupant trapped inside his bedroom.

Initially, an on-duty crew of three firefighters responded with an automatic call for mutual aid support from Custer County Volunteer Fire Department. Update from dispatch stated that there were live power lines down in the front yard of the structure and that the fire had spread to the house next door. Updated information also confirmed that the resident is in the house location in back bedroom left hand side.

Engine 8 requested mutual aid. On arrival, E-8 found heavy smoke and flame conditions in residential structures, a power line down, and electricity arcing between both homes.

RELATED TRAINING: Overcoming Challenges to Scene Access  | Critical Components of Size-Up

The fire at the initial structure was in the A-D corner, both external and internally. The fire in the second was on the B side of the structure and is external with extension into the attic. Law enforcement on scene was able to confirm that victim is in the house back corner “B/C” of his house and that all occupants were out of the second home.

E-8 crew pulled two lines, one for exposure and external fire operations and the second for fire attack/victim rescue (Vent-enter-isolate-search, or VEIS). A 360 size-up was performed by the officer but was not able to be completed because of the extent of both fires and wooden fence blocking pathway of crews between the two structures.

The E-8 fire attack crew deployed to the C side of the structure and attacked fire on the external C/D corner and requested a ladder to the rear for VEIS operations on the “C” side bedroom window. The engineer deployed 16-foot ladder, which the crew used to break the window glass. An initial scan with the thermal imaging camera (TIC) showed minimally inside the bedroom because of the heavy smoke in the room.

RELATED TRAINING: VEIS : The Engine Company’s PerspectiveVEIS , a Tactic for Today’s Fires | Drill: Vent, Enter, Isolate, Search (VEIS ) | Using Vent-Enter-Isolate-Search Tactics

Fire in C/D corner continued to be knocked down until the point of VEIS for entry. The captain entered the bedroom and found the victim with TIC and entered room. The victim was on bed face up, unresponsive. The victim was moved to just below the window opening, but the captain was unable to move victim out the window on his own; the second-due crew arrived to assist with rescue operations. The crews were able to remove the victim from the window and bring him down the ground. Once on the ground, resuscitation efforts were performed and the victim was transported to the local hospital. Unfortunately, the victim succumbed to his injuries and smoke inhalation. Crews continued to extinguish the fire in both structures, as well as in a vehicle parked between the two residences.

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