Fire department trains by burning Twin Falls house

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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - If you saw the smoke in southwest Twin Falls Wednesday, don't be alarmed. It was a controlled burn for crews to train.

"We were approached by Habitat for Humanity to possibly demolish a house for them," said Capt. Tom Bloxham and training officer for the Twin Falls Fire Department.

Linda Fleming, the executive director for Habitat for Humanity, said the house was in such disrepair that it needed to come down.

"We made the contact with the city and for us, it all worked out," she said.

After the house gets burnt down, they plan to rebuild it next spring.

"We're happy to have the partnership with this community in all sorts of ways. The fire department is going to make this home come up a lot faster," she said.

Bloxham said they recevied the offer back in January and there was quite a lot of paperwork and prep-work to get through.

"We have to make sure there's no asbestos. If there is, it has to be abated and taken out," he said.

They also sent a letter to the Department of Environmental Quality to let them know what they were doing.

"Make sure that we're all in compliance there," Bloxham said.

Battalion Chief Ron Aguirre said they use houses to do the training because they don't have a designated training burn site.

"It's been a while since we've done a burn. Probably a couple of years," Aguirre said. "They don't come along very often. When we do burn, we're looking for a specific type of structure to train in."

He said they make sure the homes or structures are safe and good enough for their firefighters to train in.

"This is extremely valuable for us, so like I mentioned before, we don't have an actual burn training tower like this to get the hands-on, live fire training that we need," he said.

Bloxham said the house is a little smaller than they've trained on before, but it worked.

"We did light a fire in one of the bedrooms and crews went in. It's usually our newer guys who haven't had a lot of experience in the fire, so they go in and they get to see how the fire builds and they'll douse it," Bloxham said.

Aguirre said they contact neighbors months before they do the training. They also make sure that structures and trees near the one they're burning don't catch fire.

"That's why we have just about every apparatus out here that we own. We were real concerned with the exposure to the south, but that's why the ladder was set up that way," Bloxham said, adding that they have a thermal image on the houses at all times to make sure it doesn't get hot.

Aguirre said they had three on-duty engines at the training and two brews that participated in the burn.

Bloxham said the training went the way they wanted to and have two more houses in the works.

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