Sacramento, CA | A two alarm fire gutted an old Victorian house on 28th and Q late Friday night, drawing a crowd of onlookers who watched as firefighters entered the burning building and put out the flames.
About 55 firefighters responded to the scene at 1617 28th St. after the call was dispatched at 11:16 p.m., and it took them about 45 minutes to contain the fire, according to Niko King, Assistant Chief at Sacramento Fire Department.
The residents of the house were not home when the fire started and no one was injured in the blaze.
King said that a crew of seven firefighters entered the home minutes after they arrived to make sure no one was inside.
“They admittedly pushed really hard,” King said. “They admittedly pushed really hard,” King said. “They were going into a building that had a lot of fire involvement but they said they were going to push as hard as they could… to make sure everybody got out of the building.”
Investigators believe the fire started in a small shed behind the house, and then spread up a power line poll and along the back wall of the home before entering the attic.
Neighbor Kara Turner watched the fire spread soon after it started.
“My son and I were sleeping and we heard a loud pop,” she said. “Someone yelled fire – one of our neighbors – and we both woke up and I noticed that the shack in our alley was engulfed in flames, and the power lines were starting to catch fire and snap, and soon after that the house caught on fire.
Flames extended 10-20 feet from the roof as firefighters fought to control the blaze around 11:30 p.m. The sound of glass shattering could be heard as the men made their way through the home. Black, sooty smoke billowed from the attic window and drifted over Winn Park, where a crowd of onlookers rubbed their eyes and took pictures and videos with smart phones.
King said that the firefighters took a calculated risk by entering the ground floor of the building while the attic was on fire, since if the fire progressed, the roof could collapse while the firefighters were still inside. However, they have years of experience with fires in the old Victorian houses that are typical in Midtown, and knew that they still had time before the roof would give.
King said they carefully evaluated the situation before making the decision to enter the building and the firefighters who entered the home were in constant communication with the firefighters working on the outside.
“This is definitely a firefighter killer if we don’t have the command staff on the outside watching the changing fire positions, firefighters closely watching… and recording what the fire behavior is doing,” he said.
Entering the front of the building is key when dealing with a fire in one of the attics of the old Victorian houses in Sacramento, King explained, because if the firefighters just fought the flames from the outside, they could push the flames through the building.
Instead, they try to save the home by entering the burning building, and fighting the fire from the inside.
“That’s the way we fight these fires,” King said. “You’re putting people at risk because you don’t know the floor plans, you’re sending them into a hot smoky environment, but to save the contents of the house, that’s what you have to do.”
Assistant Chief Niko King tells us about the incident
This report was produced in partnership with Jared Goyette of Sacramento Press
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