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Pahrump Valley Fire log

Turner Boulevard structure fire

A home that was not inspected by code enforcement officials when constructed back in the 1980’s was destroyed by fire on Saturday, Feb. 29.

Pahrump Valley Fire and Rescue Services Chief Scott Lewis said crews were dispatched to the residence, located along Turner Boulevard near Fox Avenue, at approximately 4 p.m.

No injuries were reported.

Additionally, Lewis said the structure was in a location where there were no fire hydrants.

“As crews responded, we were quickly notified that a second party reported smoke coming from a structure, therefore a structure assignment was dispatched,” Lewis said. “Medic-3 arrived within several minutes of the dispatch, and found heavy fire showing on a two-story single-family dwelling with heavy smoke emanating from both under and around the structure. They identified animal pens as immediate exposures, as well as a parked vehicle in front of the structure. I arrived on location and completed a secondary size-up and found heavy fire conditions throughout the building, with signs of imminent collapse in various areas of the structure.”

Lewis also said the home was well known by the fire department to be a pre-code constructed two-story residence.

“There were immediate concerns with that, therefore we knew from the beginning we were going to conduct a defensive exterior attack, committing no personnel to the interior, since all occupants were accounted for and were safe outside the structure.”

Once crews arrived on scene, Lewis said they commenced what is called a “blitz attack,” which involves applying lots of water in a short period of time.

“The first engine had 2,000 gallons of water aboard and we were flowing approximately 1,100 gallons per minute at the height of the initial attack,” he said. “That water supply was quickly depleted and we waited for the water tender which arrived within a minute and a half to two minutes. We did have a hose break at one point, which suspended the suppression until that hose could be isolated. It was a momentary lapse and the engine went back into service for the duration of the incident. A water tender also arrived and commenced the attack, where we went back to normal operations and controlled the fire within about 45 minutes after arrival.”

While battling the fire, Lewis noted that the structure had two unique components, related to the suppression effort, as there were two, what is known as “Pancake Collapses,” where the entire second floor fell onto the first floor very early into the fire.

“That was attributed to the building methods that were used at the time the building was constructed in the late 1980s,” he said. “It was pre-code, so it was designed and built, not following any inspections or code processes, therefore the house was considered an unsafe structure. We could attribute that it hadn’t been built correctly. Because of the methods used during construction, the house could not be insured, so the loss is out of pocket. Whatever methods the then owner was using to construct the house over that period of time, was what it was. It wasn’t inspected by any code enforcement or building official to make sure it was constructed correctly and safely.”

Lewis also said had crews entered the home, it was a good possibility they would have had the structure collapse on them, thus he ordered what’s known as a defensive exterior attack, which kept the firefighters from entering the residence.

“It was an extremely high-risk event, and thank goodness we had some knowledge of that and we didn’t commit personnel to the interior early on because they could have easily been lost. The problem is that when we have newer firefighters, they don’t necessarily know the history of some of the structures in town. What they may consider to be a normal firefighting strategy and tactic may have been a deadly consequence by not knowing the type of structure they are entering. The type of collapse that occurred early on with this fire could have had a catastrophic result if firefighters were committed to the interior, because they didn’t know the history of the structure.”

Additionally, Lewis spoke about other challenges firefighters face when dispatched to similarly constructed residences in the valley.

“A lot of these structures were built in non-hydrant areas,” he said. “Therefore this house for example, was constructed decades ago, long before the codes, yet we are still dealing with the issues of that type of construction, multiple decades later with the same issues of not being in a hydrant area. With this residence having been in the sun for three-plus decades, and being extremely dried out, the fire can grow extremely fast.”

At Lewis’ order, firefighters also stayed away from the immediate perimeter of the structure, because of what is known as a ‘collapse zone.’

“A lot of people can misunderstand and think that the firefighters are not doing anything, but that’s not the case at all,” he said. “It’s simply that there are things that we can and cannot do in certain circumstances, so we take whatever action is necessary and prudent, to make sure that the firefighters are safe. Valley Electric crews responded and secured the utilities. The cause of the fire is thought to be accidental in nature. Crews were on scene for multiple hours overhauling the fire and assisting with the movement of the pets that were in the pens.”

South River Plate Drive structure fire at 3 a.m.

On Wednesday, Feb. 26, fire crews were summoned to another structure fire along the 2700 block of South River Plate Drive at approximately 3 a.m.

The initial report determined that the occupants safely egressed from the residence, but were still attempting to rescue their pets inside the home.

“Upon arrival, we found a one-story single-family dwelling with heavy fire showing through the roof,” Lewis said. “Crews commenced an interior attack and quickly controlled the extending fire that was both in the occupied space and the attic space. There was one point where we had to pull the crews out of the structure due to sections of the tile roof collapsing down around the firefighters.”

Lewis noted that crews then performed a defensive attack where they quickly knocked down the main body of the blaze.

“There were two occupants in the structure at the time of the fire,” he said. “Both of them had sustained light smoke inhalation, but declined medical treatment or transport. The fire is under investigation, with the deputy state fire marshal and Pahrump Valley Fire and Rescue Services. The fire is thought to be accidental in nature.”

After completing a primary and secondary search, Lewis said fire crews located several deceased pets, which were removed from the home.

Deputy state fire marshal investigates 2 Pahrump fires

On Sunday, Feb. 23, fire crews were dispatched for a report of an unknown type of fire at approximately 1:43 p.m.

“While they were responding, crews were notified that the fire involved a travel trailer that was used as a fixed residence,” he said. “The crews arrived in the area of Gemini Drive within several minutes and found a fully-involved travel trailer with exposure of personal property stored near the trailer.”

Lewis went on to say that crews commenced a defensive, exterior attack and quickly controlled the fire with no further extension.

“Crews checked and found that there were no occupants, therefore there were no injuries,” he noted. “The fire is under investigation by the deputy state fire marshal. There were no utilities connected to the trailer, therefore the fire is thought to be suspect in nature.”

Also on Sunday, crews were dispatched for a report of a possible structure fire along the 100 block of West Blosser Ranch Road, just after 2 p.m.

“Tender-5 arrived within several minutes and confirmed a working fire with exposure to an accessory outbuilding surrounding it,” Lewis said. “I arrived and completed a secondary size-up and found heavy fire in what was a small double-wide structure attached to a large double-wide structure. The fire appeared to be contained to the smaller double-wide with some extension toward the accessory outbuilding. I ordered a defense of exterior attack to the smaller structure, while an interior attack was commenced on the larger structure.”

The fire, Lewis said, was contained with no further extension, and the structures were found to be vacant at the time of the fire.

As the cause of the fire was suspicious in nature, the deputy state fire marshal was dispatched to the scene.

Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at sharris@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @pvtimes

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