When a fire erupted at a house on A Street in Crawford the evening of Oct. 2, Crawford Volunteer Fire Department firefighter Mike Tiedeman was in the right place at the right time and was paying attention.
"There's a lot of people calling Mike our local hero," said Crawford mayor Susie Steckel at the Oct. 7 council meeting.
Tiedeman is president of the CVFD board and has been active with the department for more than 20 years. He also served for 10 years as fire chief. He and his wife Stephanie happened to be driving east past the house Friday evening, and Mike spotted flames on the deck located on the west side of the building. "I thought people were enjoying a fire," said Tiedeman.
When they turned the corner, he spotted flames inside the house. Stephanie immediately called 911, and Mike headed for the fire house where he and Ralph Clark jumped in a vehicle. Within 3 minutes of the call they were on the scene, and within 8 to 10 minutes firefighters were dousing the fire with water, said Tiedeman.
Tiedeman said his initial attack was not on the fire consuming the house, but on protecting the fire from spreading to the heavily-wooded area around it, where other structures are located. He knew aid was coming and would take care of the structure. "I was more concerned that we'd end up chasing the fire through town," said Teideman.
"It was pretty unbelievable to look at where that fire was," and how it was contained, said public works director Bruce Bair, who estimates that about 20,000 to 25,000 gallons of water were used to fight the fire.
An investigation showed that the fire was caused by spontaneous combustion of a pile of rags used in staining the back deck, said Tiedeman. It quickly moved up inside the house, and "violently erupted," heavily damaging the structure. No injuries were reported.
"It's heartbreaking," said Tiedeman, adding that it's best when working with oil-based products to put the rags in a fireproof, ventilated container. That way, if they do ignite, the fire is contained.