Firefighters use training to drill on live burn on Salisbury house

Firefighters take part in live training

SALISBURY, N.C. (WBTV) - A house on Bringle Ferry Road near Newsome Road in Salisbury that was built in the 1920’s, went up in a mass of smoke and flames on Thursday. It didn’t catch fire once, but at least four different times as firefighters used it to put their training into practice.

89-year-old Hilda Newsome Heart has wonderful memories of the place that she called home for several years when she was a child.

“We had swings, big cook-out, dinner in the kitchen, food all over the table," Hart said.

She is now in rehab at the Autumn Care facility right next door to the house. Workers from Autumn Care took a brick from the house and presented to her in a display case.

And then she watched as that house was set on fire.

“The simulated fire here was a fire on the second floor in a bedroom with extension in the hallway and a victim trapped on the steps," said Salisbury Fire Department Battalion Chief Nick Martin.

Trained instructors lit straw and wood. In seconds the fire was reaching to the ceiling, doubling in size every minute.

Then firefighters responded as the smoke billowed and flames came through the boarded-up windows. Tough decisions had to be made, rescue the victim first, or attack the fire?

As firefighters began attacking the fire, a “smoke explosion” occurred, sending flames blowing through the windows and burning plywood in the direction of firefighters.

“The walls are real walls that are covered in old paint, lacquer, dry wall and stuff like that. When that stuff heats up it begins off-gassing and what it off-gases is very flammable gas and when that gas then begins to fill the space from the ceiling to the floor and it reaches its ignition temperature it will simultaneously ignite and that’s what you saw there," Martin said.

No one was hurt, and as scary as it looked, it’s good for firefighters to experience it in such an environment Chief Martin says.

Throughout the day firefighters faced different scenarios as various parts of the house burned into the afternoon.

Hilda Hart was glad the house her grandfather built could now be used for something good, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to see it go up in flames.

“I’m going to try not to cry, but I know I am. I want to see it, I’m gonna watch, but it’s going to be hard.”

At the end of each scenario, fire crews met with instructors to go over how the situation was handled. They looked to see what they did right, but also which areas could use improvement.

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