Sunday, December 13, 2009

Early Detection Prevents Damaging Fire

Story By: Bernie Molloy, Firefighter-Paramedic, Lakeside Fire District

Lakeside: On Sunday, December 13th at 10:17 PM, employees at the Taco Bell at 13418 Camino Canada smelled a light odor of smoke all night but could not find it.   Later in the evening they noticed the exterior Taco Bell sign was putting out steady smoke and called 911.  B1, E3 and M3 arrived on scene and found there was steady smoke coming from the exterior sign as well as a very light odor of smoke in the restaurant.

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Lakeside Firefighters Investigating Smoke from the Sign

The odor of smoke was addressed with horizontal positive pressure ventilation.  When the building was laddered we found that there was deep charring surrounding the conduit feeding power to the light in the "T" of the Taco Bell sign, each letter had it's own power supply. There was no access to the rear of the sign from the drop ceiling in the restaurant so we had to make a small inspection hole through the exterior of the building to check for extension, of which there ended up being none.  We were able to dig out the charred wood with an axe and gave it a foam and water treatment with a PW extinguisher.  If nothing else we familiarized ourselves with what the internals of abuilding of this construction type look like, and were able to get
fresh foam in our PW.

It looked like the charring had been going on for quite some timeThis was a classic example of what pyrolysis looks like.  It was very close to having burned through into the false attic space behind the sign, if that had happened this could have been a significant fire.


Firefighters Gaining Access from the Exterior

I was on a fire very similar to this about 8 or 9 years ago at the old Alpha Beta/ Albertsons  where a hole was burned through the fascia from the inside by some exposed wiring.  I am sure others have seen similar situations and it is not something we really have any way of knowing about until it is too late.

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Evidence of Pyrophoric Carbonization

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