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Pyrolysis at root of Stony Point house fire

by jmaloni
Fri, Dec 16th 2011 04:25 pm

by Ray Pauley

Public Information Officer

Grand Island Fire Co.

At 12:33 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 8, Grand Island Fire Co. firefighters responded to a Stony Point Road structure fire reported by the owner, Kevin Hall, who discovered smoke coming from his basement.

When engine No. 4 and ladder truck No. 6 and fire suppression crews arrived on location within two minutes, smoldering embers were found in flooring and support beams under a first floor fireplace, according to Fire Chief Kevin Koch. Although this fire was localized, extinguishment presented problems because some flooring and part of a concrete foundation had to be removed to expose the extent of fire penetration, he noted.

GIFC Fire Investigator Chuck Berlinger reported that long-term heat transference caused drying of the wood next to the base of the fireplace (pyrolysis) and ignition eventually occurred. This condition is usually prevalent in older construction dating back to the 1940s and '50s or before, which happened in this case involving a 1945 build.

Fortunately, this hidden fire was discovered early enough so that structural damage was limited to approximately $10,000 and there were no injuries or worse.

Meanwhile, GIFC engine No. 5 and a mutual aid contingent from Sheridan Park Volunteer Fire Department remained on standby at fire headquarters throughout the entire operation.

All participating units returned to service at 3:13 p.m. after extensive overhaul was completed.

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