Close Call For Firefighter On The Job

Monday, February 25th 2008, 7:33 pm
By: News On 6

A house was destroyed and a firefighter had a close call this afternoon in a fire near Harvard and Independence. The News on 6's Emory Bryan reports the neighbors told firefighters someone lived in the house, but no one was sure if he was home.

The flames blasted through the roof of the house at 800 North Knoxville within minutes, leaving firefighters without a whole lot to save. But, the firefighters first on the scene in Engine 15, didn't know if anyone was inside.

"This fire had a head start on us, it was showing through the roof, we had fire not only in the living space, but also heavily in the attic," said Capt. Larry Bowles with the Tulsa Fire Department.

The older wood frame home is the kind that can burn very quickly. Inside, the temperatures soar well above 1,000 degrees and that's where the firefighters need to get their hoses.

When firefighters respond to a house fire like this, even if the neighbors tell them there is no one inside, they go in expecting a search and rescue.

Captain Steve Rhodes was on the first hose in the door and he got so close to the fire, his helmet was charred and distorted by the heat.

"We have these ear flaps that come down when it's really hot," said Captain Steve Rhodes with the Tulsa Fire Department.

Remarkably, he's OK and without any burns.

"When we do get burned, we take a look at it to see if it was an equipment issue, or a training issue," said Rhodes.

Firefighters wear heavy coats and pants, with oxygen masks and helmets that can take the heat for an instant. In this case, the fire was so big, firefighters pulled out after searching the house and fought it from the outside.

As for Captain Rhodes, he considers this another example of good equipment and good training coming together to protect firefighters.

"Enjoy coming to work every day," said Rhodes.

No firefighters were hurt and the homeowner was away. A small dog was inside and he died.