Just breathe. Stay focused. Sam said the mantra to herself over and over.
The smoke was so thick that Sam couldn’t see past her gloves. She crawled along the hallway gripping the fire hose tightly with her hands. Trying to remain calm, she made her way to the rear of the building.
The flames licked the walls around her and she could feel the intensity of the heat. It felt like she was a turkey roasting in an oven.
When the call came into the station thirty minutes earlier, she thought it would be a small fire. Quick, get in get out. But this was a doozy. Campbell’s Farmers Market was totally engulfed in flames when they arrived and now Sam and her crew had to find the owner’s son who was believed to be inside.
Sam pictured the layout of the market in her head. She had been to Campbell’s Farmers Market many times to buy fresh fruits and vegetables for her family. Never in her wildest dreams did she imagine she would be crawling on her hands and knees in the dark trying to find her way around.
She kept crawling through the dense smoke, leading her crew to the office that had to be straight ahead. She wanted to stop and take a break but she knew that every second counted. Especially when there was a person that needed to be located. And quickly.
At last she found what she thought was the door to the office. She felt the door before pushing it open. The smoke was not as heavy in here as it was on the main floor. She slowly made her way around the office feeling the floor. Kevin and Mack, the guys on her crew, were moving around to the desk looking for the victim. Sam felt something hard near the back of the door. She called out to Mack and showed him the body of a male laying face down on the floor.
Sam called into her radio, “Command. Occupant located. We are heading out. Conditions are worsening.” She quickly checked the victim’s pulse. It was weak but he was still alive. Thank goodness.
Mack and Kevin carried him out and Sam followed close behind holding the line.
She heard a loud noise toward the back of the warehouse and turned around to look. It was hard to see with all of the heavy smoke and flames but she thought the back door was propped open.
When they got within a few feet of the front door, she noticed something that was out of place. What in the world was that? She thought her eyes were deceiving her. Was that a person standing a few feet away behind the front door?
She only had a couple of seconds now. She hesitated and tried to get a better look. It was now or never.
Once she saw that her crew and the victim were safely outside, she turned around and made her way back through heavy smoke. Within a couple of minutes she heard the frantic call through her radio.
“Mayday!” She heard command call in a desperate tone. “One firefighter unaccounted for. Mayday!”
Then the roof collapsed into a fiery crash all around her.