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Fire Captain Gives Tips for Escaping Building Fires

The deadly Ghost Ship warehouse fire is a reminder that we all need to be prepared for the unexpected, so 7 On Your side’s Michael Finney has some tips for escaping a dangerous situation should you ever find yourself in one.

Thirty-six people died in the warehouse fire becoming the deadliest fire in Oakland’s history.

Confusion is a common word you hear when describing many emergencies. Here’s some good advice from firefighters on getting out alive when fire breaks out.

A team lead by captain Todd Ellis of the Menlo Park Fire Department set a fire to demonstrate the impact of smoke on unsuspecting people.

Those who escaped the tragedy in Oakland said many didn’t know if the flames that erupted were a part of the concert. “They didn’t know if it was part of the pyrotechnics, part of the show. Pyrotechnics aren’t going to be flames. Typically, they might be an explosion that goes away quickly, no sustained flames,” Ellis said.

Almost two minutes into the fire demonstration the smoke starts to build and it only got worse. “You can see how smoke is getting thicker at the top. Already if you’re standing, you can’t see in here,” Ellis said.

Video shot during a training exercise by the fire department with a thermal imaging camera shows the heavy smoke from the firefighter’s point of view.

The best way to escape is to get down low and follow the wall. That can be the quickest route to a door or window.

Just past six minutes, the smoke was so thick visibility is zero and impossible to breathe. “If the airs hot enough, it’s a super heated gas that’s may burn your lungs creating so you can’t breathe or your airway may swell shut,” Ellis said.

All 36 victims of the Oakland fire died of smoke inhalation.

Whenever you go somewhere new, look around and find at least two ways out. “So all you can really do to be safe is anytime you go someplace new, just be aware of your surroundings and look at different paths to get to the outside,” Ellis said.

At the height of the demonstration fire, the temperature reached 500 degrees.

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