JACKSON HOLE, WYO – It was not the way dozens of emergency personnel would have chosen to spend their Christmas Eve, but it is part of the job description for the men and women who choose to fight fires. Jackson Hole Fire/EMS never know when the station bell will sound but when it does, they answer, they do their duty, and they give it all they’ve got.
It was 5:32pm on Sunday, Christmas Eve, when a call came into dispatch of smoke coming from the floor vents at a home located off of Fall Creek Road south of Wilson. By the time crews arrived, they encountered heavy smoke billowing from the structure after entering the crawl space.
It was difficult to find the source of the fire due to ongoing construction at the residence. Before long the fire compromised the floor construction, and interior operations were terminated when the floor collapsed.
The fire then spread into the walls and continued to consume blown-in insulation located within the floor and wall spaces.
Firefighters from Jackson, Adams Canyon, Hoback, Moran, Wilson, and the Wilson Pines fire stations did all they could but could not save the home. The entire structure was lost to fire.
“Crews worked hard and long hours through the night and morning in cold, wet, and icy conditions,” said Incident Commander Kathy Clay. “Everyone did their very best to try to stop this deep-seated fire.”
Clay believes the fire originated in the crawl space. Due to the complete destruction of the structure, investigation efforts were compromised as well. “What actually caused the heat to spread into the crawl space insulation is unknown at this time,” Clay added.
The family was able to safely evacuate the structure with no reported injuries. Chief Matt Redwine noted one injury was recorded to a firefighter who strained his hand opening frozen links to firehouse.
“Considering the extremely slippery conditions on the fire ground and the many shuttle runs made by water tenders, this was a very safe and successful operation,” Redwine commented.
Fire crews remained on scene until late into the afternoon on Christmas day.
Jackson Hole Fire EMS is aided by multiple support efforts including the folks from Teton County CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) volunteers who came out on Christmas Eve and stayed on scene through 6am on Christmas Day to provide Jackson Hole Fire/EMS with hot drinks, food, and a warm place to rest as they worked a major structure fire.
Jackson Hole Security again provided emergency responders with the comforts of their rehabilitation bus.