Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A fire in Lake Sarasota

This is the dry season, and it's at its peak. Wednesday evening some trees were set ablaze in Lakeview Park, fairly close to a house. The fire moved very quickly. Here are a few notes gleaned from those present:

1. How did the fire start?

Witnesses said they saw three or four young kids with bikes at the spot where and when the fire began. The kids took off as it gathered force. They thought the kids were 13 or so, possibly younger. It is unknown if anyone actually saw someone start the fire.


2. Who called it in? 

Several people who were in the park around 7:30 p.m. appear to have called 911. One woman said she was kept on the phone for 10 minutes with questions like, "How high is the fire?"

Others in the park might also have called it in, however, no one shouted to the homeowner or came to his door to tell him of the fire. It was his dog's barking that drew his attention to the flames, which were very close to his fence, he reported.


3.  How long did it take for the Fire Dept. to arrive?

It had to have been about 15 minutes or so, given that 911 talked to one woman for 10 minutes. When the fire truck did arrive at the park's gate on Lago Rd., they found it locked. Apparently there is not a common key that is shared between Parks Dept. and Emergency Responders. It took the Firemen about two minutes to cut the chain and open the gate.


4. What steps were taken to slow the fire before the Fire Dept. arrived?

When the homeowner saw the flames, he turned on his hose and shot water over the fence. This retarded a portion of the blaze, but the fire was climbing high up into trees and was not going to be quenched by a hose.


5. Did anyone offer to help?

The homeowner reports he called out to people in the park and asked if anyone could help by grabbing a bucket of water to throw on the fire.

     -- "The Fire Dept. will be here in a minute," was the reply from some high-school age kids playing disc golf.

Thankfully a neighbor came with a bucket and helped.


6. How long did it take the Fire Dept. to put out the fire? 

The firemen spent at least a half-hour working to douse the flames and making sure the area was soaked. They had begun with one fire extinguisher, but seeing the size of the fire, they ended up using an entire truckload of water.

[Update] Even with that amount of water, the fire had not entirely been put out. The following morning, there were hot embers turning the base of a palm tree into flame. The Fire Dept. had to be called a second time. This time they raked and used water. This shows how fire can travel down into the roots below the ground and remain intact.


7. What did the Sheriff's deputy do?

The Officer who responded to the call was informed that there were witnesses who saw those who were near the fire when it started. Those witnesses later stated they were not questioned by the Officer. It is unclear whether they were questioned by anyone from the Fire Dept.


Final Question:

Imagine this was your home. Fortunately no loss of life or property occurred. Are you 100% satisfied with how this incident was handled?


 Takeaways:


  • If you see a fire near a neighbor's home, make sure that homeowner is aware of the situation even if you have called 911. 
  • Do not assume Fire Responders can and will always respond rapidly.
  • If a homeowner asks for help quenching a fire, consider giving him a hand. You never know when you might need a hand in turn.





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