Huge Manila Fire Likely Caused By Extension Cords, Power Strips – October 22, 2012

Monday, October 22, 2012

Fire as seen by arriving firefighters. Photos by Arcata Fire Battalion Chief Sean Campbell

Manila Structure Fire

MANILA – Arcata Fire District personnel responded to 1978 Ward Street in Manila after receiving numerous reports of a residential structure fire with a person trapped and power lines down. Firefighters arrived and found the structure 100 percent involved with fire and three neighboring residences beginning to ignite.

The first arriving officers received a report of a man down in the backyard. AFPD Firefighters and Humboldt Bay Firefighters began a defensive fire attack while simultaneously rescuing the man in the backyard. The man’s egress was blocked by the raging fire and crews had to push the fire back so they could take the man to safety. The man was evaluated by paramedics but he refused medical care. Firefighters were able to stop the fire spread to all but one of the exposed residences.

Firefighters contained the large fire in about 30 minutes and confirmed that the house was not occupied when the fire started. The homeowner arrived after seeing the large fire from the downtown Arcata area. The owner confirmed that there was no one else in the house.

One firefighter was injured when he was overcome with exhaustion while battling the blaze. He was treated at the scene and returned to work.

This incident occurred during shift change at the Mad River and McKinleyville Stations which allowed extra personnel to respond fire apparatus that would normally be unstaffed. AFPD had a total of 15 firefighters and 4 chief officers at the scene. Humboldt Bay Fire responded with one engine, staffed with four firefighters, and one chief officer as part of an automatic-aid agreement. Blue Lake Fire was requested to cover the Mad River Fire Station while crews battled the blaze.

Battalion Chief Campbell reported, “This fire was very advanced when firefighters first arrived. There was fire blowing out of every door and window and three other occupancies were beginning to ignite. Firefighters did a great job helping the man trapped in the backyard and stopping the spread of fire to the exposed occupancies.”

The structure lost during this fire was heavily damaged in a 2008 fire. The rapid spread of fire can be attributed to a lack in fire resistive materials such as sheetrock. The owners stated they used cardboard to patch the walls damaged in the 2008 fire because that was all they could afford to do.

Battalion Chief Campbell reports, “We are still investigating the cause of the fire. The owner feels strongly that this fire was caused by an electrical failure. He stated they had numerous extension cords and circuit strips in use and there were numerous circuits overloaded. The structures electrical system was damaged in the 2008 fire and the occupants had to get power from a neighbors system in order to live in the house. It is unfortunate that these people had to live in such poor conditions but it was all they had.”

Extension cords and circuit strips should only be used on a temporary basis.



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