12/09/04 — New equipment helps find, fight city fire

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New equipment helps find, fight city fire

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on December 9, 2004 2:00 PM

The Goldsboro Fire Department's new thermal imaging camera went a long way Wednesday night in minimizing damage in a house fire.

"It helped us tremendously," Assistant Fire Chief Gary Whaley said. The camera pinpointed the location of a fire at 401 E. Mulberry St.

"We knew we had a fire in the attic and had smoke coming from the attic, but we had no idea where to go," Whaley said. "We took the camera and ran it along the ceiling and found it."

Mulberry fire

Bobby Williams

Goldsboro firefighters on Wednesday night enter the attic of a house at 401 E. Mulberry St.

The fire was caused by an electrical wire that had shorted out in the attic, the assistant chief said.

Without the camera, Whaley said, firefighters would have had to have torn out much of the ceiling to find the fire.

The first engine company arrived within a minute of the 8:06 p.m. call. The quick response by 19 firefighters and the use of the camera limited damage to $1,000 to the one-floor home and $100 to contents.

The camera, Fire Chief Bobby Greenfield said today, "has saved a lot of property in Goldsboro."

The department bought its first camera with a $10,000 donation from West Pharmaceuticals Corp. in Kinston after Goldsboro firefighters had assisted in putting out a fire in 2003 at the plant. Six people died as a result of the fire.

Greenfield said the city had bought a second camera for his department and the federal Department of Homeland Security later provided four more.

"I about fell out of my chair when I got the call" from Homeland Security, the chief said.

The fire on Mulberry Street burned old insulation but was contained in the attic, Whaley said.

"We used a window to the attic, then climbed inside and extinguished the fire," he said.

Firefighters shoveled insulation outside and wrapped up property inside so there would be little damage from streams of water used to put out the smoldering fire.

The resident, Lennie Smith, and his wife were home but got outside unharmed. No firefighters were injured.

The home had light smoke damage, but the couple was able to return inside later.

The 2,500-square-foot home was valued at $50,000, and contents were valued at $30,000, Whaley said.

"Everyone did an outstanding job in fighting the fire," he said.