Fire fighters: ‘Sleep with your bedroom doors closed’

Responders overcame complications during blaze last week.

The Jan. 24 fire in Issaquah made a strong case for sleeping with bedroom doors closed.

“All the fire damage was in the hallway and completely black from smoke and heat,” said Ben Lane, battalion chief for Eastside Fire and Rescue. “Open up the bedroom and it was like there wasn’t even a fire there.”

Bedroom doors are designed to keep smoke and heat out of a room. In the event someone is trapped there, they can be rescued from a window. Everyone managed to escape the blaze on Jan. 24 unharmed.

At 5:01 p.m., firefighters were dispatched to the 27300 block of SE 162nd Place in Issaquah. The blaze began in the garage of the two-story home and extended into the living area of the house.

Eastside Fire was the first to respond to the area, Lane said, but units from Snoqualmie, Maple Valley, Woodinville and Kirkland followed. Responders got water on the fire within minutes of arrival, but a sectioned-off garage and burned-through roof structure created hurdles.

It wasn’t safe for firefighters to go directly into the garage, given the unstable nature of the roof.

“The fire was contained at that time, it just took a while to get it completely extinguished,” Lane said.

The fire, having reached into the attic, compromised the roof structure. Unchecked burns in the attic could cause roof collapse. Firefighters took that into account and fought the blaze from below, pulling the ceiling from a bedroom on the second floor to extinguish the attic blaze.

“(Fires in the attic) can burn quicker, but it’s more a fact that it’s hard to get to,” Lane said. “There are no windows, no door, no hatch.”

The home’s location, in the more rural area on the south end of Issaquah close to Highway 18, meant the house had a village hydrant with two small ports and not the three-port hydrants found in the city. And one of the ports on the particular hydrant was faulty and not functioning correctly.

A normal hydrant can pump about 1,500 gallons a minute. The village hydrant can pump about 300 gallons a minute.

In this instance, fire fighters placed one engine right on the hydrant and pumped from the hydrant to the attack engine. A large supply line led to the house where the engine pulled from the attack line.

“Having to overcome that takes more equipment and a little more time, but did not delay any water application,” Lane said. “I don’t think it hindered our ability to extinguish and control the fire — we just like to operate with more of a safety buffer.”

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