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Fairchild firefighters help extinguish local fire

Firefighters sift through debris at a home in Medical Lake after a woman was found dead in the one-story structure that burned early Tuesday, March 14, 2017. Firefighters were called to the home near 703 E. Barker at 12:45 a.m., said Spokane County Sheriffs Deputy Mark Gregory. When they arrived on scene, firefighters saw large amounts of fire and smoke coming from the home. They were hampered by a large amount of clutter inside and out, Gregory said. While fighting the fire, they learned that a woman might still be inside, Gregory said. But firefighters were unable to enter the structure. Fire Departments from Medical Lake, Airway Heights, Spokane, Fairchild Air Force Base and Spokane County fire districts 3, 9 and 10 arrived at the scene. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

Firefighters sift through debris at a home in Medical Lake after a woman was found dead in the one-story structure that burned early Tuesday, March 14, 2017. Firefighters were called to the home near 703 E. Barker at 12:45 a.m., said Spokane County Sheriffs Deputy Mark Gregory. When they arrived on scene, firefighters saw large amounts of fire and smoke coming from the home. They were hampered by a large amount of clutter inside and out, Gregory said. While fighting the fire, they learned that a woman might still be inside, Gregory said. But firefighters were unable to enter the structure. Fire Departments from Medical Lake, Airway Heights, Spokane, Fairchild Air Force Base and Spokane County fire districts 3, 9 and 10 arrived at the scene. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

MEDICAL LAKE, Wash. -- Firefighters from the 92nd Civil Engineer Squadron along with firefighters from Medical Lake, Airway Heights, Spokane and Spokane County Districts 3, 9 and 10 responded to a house fire near Barker Street in Medical Lake, early Mar. 14.

The Fairchild Emergency Communication Center dispatched the information to the base fire department at 12:45 a.m. Fairchild Airmen were the third to arrive on the scene.

“The structure was showing heavy fire and smoke as soon as we got there,” said Jeff Sanborn, 92nd CES Fire Department division chief. “Our initial assignment was to assist the ventilation team who were transitioned to an exterior position as soon as the structure was vented.”

Airmen assisted in putting out the fire for approximately four hours. Their role, along with other fire departments, was vital to a successful extinguishment. However, it was later discovered this particular fire resulted in a fatality.

Unfortunately, firefighters learned a woman was still stuck inside the house. The condition of the fire on arrival and the amount of debris in the structure made the survival profile of any occupants still inside untenable, Sanborn said.

“The first arriving crews did everything in their power to gain access and extinguish the fire,” he added. “The victim was found during overhaul deceased under heavy debris.”

The loss of life, such as in this incident, only further stresses the importance of having functioning smoke detectors in each room of a home.

“We spent a few hours in the structure removing burnt belongings and extinguishing spot fire,” Sanborn said. “Our department prides itself on being available to our local community when needed and this is reciprocated when we need their assistance.”

The Medical Lake fire chief praised Fairchild Airmen for their professionalism and competency towards a successful extinguishment and preventing the fire from spreading to other nearby homes.