One night, two fires, handful of heroes

JACKSON, Wyo. — It seems that when it rains it pours, as the saying goes, for Jackson Hole Fire/EMS — though some literal rain might have come in handy last weekend.

Fire/EMS responded to two fires within an hour Saturday night. The first was a structure fire in a fourplex apartment on East Hansen that burned through a kitchen floor but left everyone unharmed.

As four Jackson engines worked to douse that fire, an old burn pile reignited near the south entrance of South Park Loop. Hoback and Adams Canyon quickly extinguished the small grass fire.

The 9-1-1- call for the E Hansen fire came just after 11 p.m. Saturday. Battalion Chief Mike Moyer said a neighbor saw the smoke and flames and started knocking on doors to wake people up and call for help.

It was two officers from the Jackson Police Department who arrived first: Corporal Phillip Smith and Officer Raab. Bodycam footage posted to Facebook shows Smith and Raab entering one of the apartment units and helping a man out through clouds of smoke.

“They thought there might be somebody in there,” Schultz said. “Turns out there was.”


This was the third time they had tried to enter, Schultz said. The first two times, the smoke had chased them out. One of the officers had even post-holed through weakened floorboards.

These are the moments police officers live for, Schultz said. “I don’t know a single cop who would stand outside [a burning building],” he said. “We’re all wired to run toward the danger … it’s all about public service and saving lives.”

By the time Fire/EMS arrived, everyone in the apartments had been safely evacuated. One of the police officers had deployed a fire extinguisher, but there was still plenty of fire burning. It was coming from the crawlspace under the deck.

“We were able to knock it down within a few minutes, but it took a while to check for extensions of the fire,” Moyer said. In other words, crews had to make sure the fire hadn’t spread. The four apartments share one continuous crawlspace, but the fire only made it into one unit. It burned through the kitchen floor and caused “significant damage” to the back corner.

A total of 16 firefighters in four engines and two ambulances responded to the fire. No one was injured, and residents of the three unaffected apartments were able to go home at around 1:30 a.m.

An official cause has not been released at this time.

“Still lots of unanswered questions,” said Fire Marshal Kathy Clay.

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