Monday, July 5, 2010

KIeffner Ranch, Stupid Kids, and the Fourth of July

Well this past week has been a very eventful week in the Fire & EMS field. We've had a fire, a big one at that, a kid who stole his grandmother's car and rolled it, and the Fire Department Independence Day BBQ. So without further ado here is my week.

The Kleffner Ranch Fire

The Kleffner Ranch is a famous ranch just south of Helena and west of East Helena that was developed in the 1880's and was abandoned in 1893 after The Silver Panic hit and set ruin to the owner. After being vacant for a number of years, Paul Kleffner bought the ranch in 1943 and set to restoring it to it's original beauty. He then sold it in 2005 where it was still being developed into a popular place for weddings, receptions and so on.

As you can see it pretty much is a big deal place in Helena. Everyone knows of it as a landmark. So let's get into it. It was roughly 00:45 (12:45am) and I was laying awake in bed. I don't know if it was the banging of branches and blinds caused by the breezy gusts of wind outside or just a general being awake but there I was, awake. I had just closed my eyes and had just started to nod off when the familar "beep, beep, beep" of the pager went off. After scrambling to put on my fire clothing. I raced off to Station 2. I made it right as the first truck was leaving and got on Tender 1.

We raced like Highway 518 and came around the bend to see an orange glow encompassing most of the area. As we got closer the barn came into sight. An image that will forever be burned into my brain lay before me. Flames shooting out of the roof roughly from what it seemed, about 20 ft high, heavy smoke was showing from all over and flames were jutting out from all the eves. Everyone was scrambling to get their gear on and get all masked up. I was part of the second crew and we ran up with the monitor and started blasting water into the structure. We couldn't get enough water pressure to run the 3inch going into the monitor, while balancing 120psi in the 1 3/4 inch pre-connect. After some juggling and finding a stable water source we were in business. We changed bottles three times before we were sent to rehab. Which we were supposed to rehab 10 minutes at least for every bottle of air we were on. I never ran out of air, usually getting down to about 50%.

Finally after being ordered to go to the ambulance and get checked out, get placed on O2 and relaxing a bit, I got bored and jumped back into the thick of it. This picture to the left is of me shooting water into the building to knock out some visible fire. After we did what we could we realized we just weren't going to get the fire from the angle we were out, so we called in an excavator and the City of Helena's Aerial Ladder Truck. The next picture is one I took of the Aerial and Excavator with the sun coming up. With this combo we made short work of the fire. Most of us rested and pounded down some BK sandwiches and crappy coffee. But at 5am after fighting fire for four straight hours, coffee is coffee.

At 07:25 after an hour of mop up and attempted salvage, and cleaning up/breaking down the hoses, we were clear of the scene. After almost 7hrs my first structure fire was knocked down. Here is an after shot of the building and a link to the Helena IR News Article.


Later that morning I had to work, so I was at that point going on 32 hours roughly of being awake. I ended up having to drive from Helena to Great Falls then over to Kalispell and back down. Here is a shot of some angry clouds on the way back. After the fire and getting back from work at about 22:30 (10:30pm) and being up four about 42 straight hours I managed to get some sleep.

Friday night I worked with Mike the Medic and we had a pretty quiet night until about 01:20hrs or so. A kid (15yrs old) decided that he needed to steal his grandmother's car and drive it to California to help a friend. Around the Seiben area was when the Highway Patrol started chasing him, and it wasn't until Boulder Pass that he hit the guard rail going 110mph. When we got there he was cuffed as he had a standoff with police. He was laying on the ground in cuffs with a sheriff's deputy holding c-spine. We boarded him and got him to the hospital. From what we could see he only had seat-belt bruises. Luckily.

Independence Day

The fourth of July was done in a typical fashion. BBQ's, Fireworks, beer, etc. The fire department had its annual BBQ. We had really good food. We sat around a fire as it was cold. Yeah, like 40's in the evening. Folks shot clay pigeons. Then we busted out the fireworks. As you can see by the picture.
But that is about it. My first really big structure fire. Stupid kids thinking they are invincible, and good food amongst fun people. Can't ask for anything more I guess. Stay tuned as the fire season looks to get into full swing!

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