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Firefighters rescue two, and community rallies to help those displaced by apartment fire

Stan Tharp, left, and Griffin Jory | Logan Ramsey,
POCATELLO — On a dark and windy night, two firefighters made their way into an apartment unit that was filled with smoke.
Firefighters Stan Tharp and Griffin Jory were responding to a fire at the Laab Apartment complex on Jan. 14. It was the early morning hours between 2 and 3 a.m., and the pair were performing rescues to make sure everyone had evacuated the building.
Rather than call out loud and check to see if a unit had people in it, Tharp and Jory got into the apartments anyway.
“You assume at that time of night that they’re all occupied,” Jory said.
One of the apartment units was up in flames, and the two adjacent to it were filled with smoke. One of these adjacent apartments had flames in front of the door, and the fire truck had to hit it with water to suppress them.
“Once they got it down enough, then we were able to get by to that apartment,” Tharp said.
Kim Stouse, community relations specialist with the Pocatello Fire Department, said Hollywood doesn’t depict fire situations realistically.
“It’s not like you see on ‘Chicago Fire,’” Stouse said. “A lot of times people think that when they walk into a fire that they can see the fire off into the distance.”
When Jory and Tharp entered the apartment unit, they couldn’t even see each other even though they were within arm’s length. All they could see was thick white smoke.
The firefighters used their flashlights, thermal imaging cameras and their training to guide them through the smoky apartment.
“For me, it all falls back on training,” Jory said.
Both of the firefighters said that they weren’t thinking about the risk they were putting their own lives in by doing this job.
“I don’t remember thinking of anything other than we’re in there to do a certain task, and we’ve done this task 100 times practicing and going over it,” Tharp said.
Jory didn’t realize there was anyone to rescue in this unit until they were 10 to 15 feet into it. Suddenly, a face that he recognized popped into his vision.
He was a man Jory and Tharp had seen waving to the fire trucks whenever they passed him. Jory had interacted with him multiple times before.

The Laab’s Apartment units after the fire on Jan. 14. | Logan Ramsey,
The man and a woman had found themselves trapped in the apartment building when they discovered flames in front of their door and couldn’t get out their back window.
To Jory, the man didn’t seem panicked. He’d even gathered up some things he wanted to bring out with him while waiting for the firefighters to arrive.
Tharp couldn’t see the person he rescued. All he heard was a voice, and he reached forward and grabbed her.
Once the two firefighters and the previously trapped people had escaped the apartment unit, they were still stuck in thick smoke. They had to get about 50 feet from the building before they finally had full visibility back.
“It was pretty amazing that they were in as good of condition that they were in, given the environment,” Jory said.
Tharp and Jory started yelling for ambulance crew to come and evaluate the two people for dangerous smoke inhalation.
Once the two people were to safety, the firefighters got back to work.
“We were still tasked to search, and so we were just going down the line,” Tharp said. There were more people in other units who hadn’t yet realized there was a fire.
A total of 30 residents were temporarily displaced by the fire. Although firefighters contained it quickly, the electricity to the building had to be shut off.
RELATED | Apartment complex fire temporarily displaces 30 residents
The Pocatello Department of Transportation transported the residents to a local Super 8, paid for by vouchers from Valley Mission Food Pantry. Due to the holiday weekend and winter weather conditions, Valley Mission extended that offer through Saturday and Sunday. The hotel also sold the rooms at a discounted rate.
The Red Cross assisted the residents with funds as well, helping those who couldn’t return to their apartments on Monday stay another night at the hotel. The Salvation Army prepared lunch and dinner for the residents during their stay, with Super 8 providing breakfast. St. Vincent de Paul of Pocatello also provided clothing on a case-by-case basis for those who needed it.
“We have a really great community, and so the coordination and collaboration really helped to make things seamless,” Stouse said.
The cause of the fire is unknown at this point and is under investigation by the Pocatello Fire Department in collaboration with the Pocatello Police Department.
After the fire, Stouse spoke to the man Tharp and Jory had rescued and didn’t even realize what had happened to him.
“Even that night when he was on the bus and I was talking with him, he was still jovial,” Stouse said. “Very thankful, very appreciative.”
Both of the firefighters were amazed that the two people in the apartment were in good condition.
“I think they did the right thing,” Jory said.
The next day, Jory said that they drove past the man again, and they waved to each other.
The post Firefighters rescue two, and community rallies to help those displaced by apartment fire appeared first on East Idaho News.

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