Challenging fire destroys house near Lebanon

A reported kitchen fire eventually consumed a home in the 37000 block of Rock Hill Drive south of Lebanon on Thursday, Oct. 14.
A Central Avenue resident first reported the blaze shortly after 9 p.m. after noticing the fully involved structure. Lebanon Fire District officials believed it had been burning for a significant amount of time.
Crews arrived on scene six minutes later to find a resident using buckets of water from an above-ground swimming pool on the conflagration. Firefighters quickly directed on-scene paramedics to evaluate the man, who suffered mild smoke inhalation. He was observed on scene until being released.
Because the home was outside the city’s hydrant system, firefighters established a rural water supply using water tenders and portable water tanks. Two tenders from Lebanon and one from the Tangent Rural Fire District established a shuttle, dumping water into portable tanks on Rock Hill Drive, then driving one mile to the nearest hydrant to fill up and return. This ensured a constant water supply for on-scene firefighters, who were using up to 300 gallons per minute. (The typical fire engine water tank holds roughly 750 gallons, which can be expended in less than two and a half minutes when flowing two hand lines.)
An initial report indicated the presence of possibly seven people in the house. A large accumulation of personal belongings made entry nearly impossible. So crews used a technique called VES (Vent-Enter-Search) to enter interior rooms from the exterior windows of uninvolved rooms and quickly searched for victims before leaving through the window and continuing to the next room. Firefighters searched two bedrooms before fire conditions forced them to switch to a defensive operational mode. No victims were found.
The home’s second floor collapsed onto the first during the blaze, further hampering the effort.
An engine remained on scene overnight to watch for flare-up.
Crews returned early Friday to meet with the property owner. After evaluating the structure’s lack of stability, Lebanon Fire Marshal Jason Bolen determined that the structure was too unsafe for fire investigators. An excavator arrived after a consultation with the property owner, and the house was torn down, allowing crews to completely extinguish the still-smoldering fire. The scene was finally cleared at 8 a.m., nearly 11 hours after the initial call.
No injuries were reported during the incident. The home and its contents, initially valued at $325,000, were a complete loss. Twenty-one personnel on 11 fire apparatus responded, and the Tangent Fire District provided one water tender with two personnel for mutual aid.