Monday, September 13, 2010

Late night Sunday fire

Neighborhood night fire
Fire burning the second story roof.
Orlando Journal

Sunday evening, around 8pm, we had one hellavu thunderstorm roll through my neighborhood. The day had been hot, with the high in the low 90's. I thought we weren't going to get any rain; on hot days like that it usually starts earlier in the evening, usually around 5pm.

I was cooking supper out on the grill, and was nearly finished when the storm really began to intensify. The bolts were striking very close, so close that there was not time difference between the strike and the sound of subsequent thunder.

By 8:30pm the storm was literally right over us. I lost count of the strikes (that is, strikes close around the house). The lightening reached a peak with a house-rattling boom that I really thought had hit the property, if not the house. The lights even flickered, and I lost the network connection between the cable modem and my (now damaged, as it turned out) Linksys wireless hub.

We finally ate and I was cleaning up in the kitchen. That's when my daughter, and then my wife, started to smell smoke. And the kind of smoke that comes from burning plastics or insulation. I started immediately looking for blown smoking electronics, but couldn't see anything. The smell of smoke kept getting stronger. It was at this point I decided to look outside the back, and that's when I saw what I thought was fog for a brief instance, and then quickly recognized as smoke. I panicked and went out front, thinking it was some part of our house or property.

The whole front of the yard and the street was filled with smoke. There was a car with its lights on idling in the street. Right after noticing the car, I noticed the flashing lights from Orange County Sheriff's cars at the end of the street, and then the Orange County Fire and Rescue trucks started to roll into the street. It was about that time that I started to see flames coming up from the two-story house across the street.

Pretty soon everyone on the street was out with umbrellas, looking and commenting. The conversations were all hushed; we realized how lucky we were not to have out house going up in flames. We kept back and let the sheriffs and fire department do their thing. We even had a news string come by and shoot some footage for the late news.

Neighborhood night fire
Line-up of fire vehicles. Three here, a forth around the corner.
It was impressive to see the trucks lined up. The mix of smoke and mist from the rain made photography a little hazy.

Neighborhood night fire
The crane came by a little after the fire was put out. What it
did provide was overhead lighting into the second story.
A shot of the crane deployed over the house. It was a good logistical move to bring it in, since it provided a good solid light source for the other firefighters to work inside the house's second story.

Good news out of all of this was that no-one was hurt. The couple in the house that burned felt the strike even more than we did, and got out immediately. The fire didn't spread, but it did take a while to put it out. The house looks to be a total loss; certainly the upper floor.

Update

A few shots after daylight.

Night fire aftermath
The back half of the upper story roof is completely gone.

Night fire aftermath
The second story window where the firemen entered is
now boarded over.

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