Fire captain: Fast response was not flawed
The investigation into a fire that killed two people in a Marysville apartment complex Sept. 17 continued over the weekend, and one fire official worked to set the record straight.
The fire killed Crystal Porter, 19, and her daughter, Katelynn Risner, 1; burned three buildings, including the Pink Trunk store on Seventh Street; and displaced nearly 40 people.
On Sunday, Marysville fire Capt. Mike Marcucci expressed frustration with early inaccurate media reports that the Marysville Fire Department took too long to respond to the fire and couldn't access water.
He said firefighters arrived on scene within five minutes of receiving the report, called for backup, pulled two residents from the building and never came close to running out of water.
“We went right into rescue mode,” Marcucci said, speaking of their mindset as they arrived at the fire shortly after 11:30 p.m. Rescue is the first priority when responding to any fire, he said.
A fire hydrant was damaged as firefighters tried to access it, but they used water stored on the engine while the Linda Fire Department hooked up lines to another hydrants.
Firefighters use the phrase “taking the fire” to describe how they use tank water on the truck to knock the fire down quickly without wasting precious initial moments to hook up to hydrants until other firefighters can arrive, he said.
Linda and Yuba City fire departments assisted in combatting the blaze.
Rumors that Porter and her daughter might have been saved if the hydrant had not been damaged were also false, Marcucci said.
Firefighters didn't learn about Porter until it was too late, he said.
“We had really sketchy details,” he said. “We didn't know how many people were in the building.”
When firefighters learned of Porter, Marcucci said, they went to her apartment, but the fire was too intense. Parts of the roof fell on firefighters as they fought to contain the fire
“We tried to fight our way of the staircase,” he said. The flooring was too soft and unsafe to enter. Eventually, it collapsed.
Marcucci said he was hurt by the news that two people died. Whenever there is a loss of life, especially during their watch, firefighters take it personally, he said.
Considering the buildings were old and made of wood and the speed of the fire, Marcucci said, he was surprised more buildings weren't burned in the fire or more lives lost.
Appeal-Democrat reporter Daniel Witter can be reached at 749-4712. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.