New Video: Firefighters release helmet cam of house collapse

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - The cause of the house fire Aug. 1 on the northeast corner of W. Hill Road and Castle Drive in northwest Boise remains undetermined.

However, the Boise Fire Department released new video Thursday showing the action up close and personal from a fire fighter's helmet camera.

It's almost like watching a movie...getting as close as you can to the action without actually being there. Except the characters in this film are real, and so is the battle they faced.

"You can see from the video quite a bit of flames coming out of the windows," Boise Fire Battalion Chief Steve Rasulo said. "You see a lot of the embers blowing in the wind."

Rasulo recounted the dangerous conditions his team faced battling the flames, talking through the video once more. He said when Captain Randy Christiansen saw the building's walls start to bulge, he called for help.

"He saw those potential signs of collapse and he radioed command, and command put out the report for everyone to move back from the structure," Rasulo said.

From there, helmet camera video, caught by Christiansen's brother Rob shows the tense moments leading up to the climax. Then, the collapse happened in the blink of an eye.

"You'll see them start to move away from the structure, and from the time of that initial report to the time of the collapse was under 15 seconds," Rasulo said. "So it was really fast. The speed of once it started to collapsing to when it was completely on the ground was really unprecedented to other fires I've seen in my 27 years with the fire service."

In the moment, Rasulo said everyone kept their composure, and did roll call to make sure everybody was accounted for.

"Several of the crew members were in close proximity and got hit by some of the debris," Rasulo said. "Until the smoke and debris settled we didn't know if we had some crew members that were underneath portions of the house."

He said that fact made the following moments extremely uncertain.

"The fire service is like a brotherhood and a sisterhood," Rasulo said. "We spend a third of our lives together, we know each other, we know the families and the individuals involved. It's amazing the things that go through your mind when you think you lost somebody."

This story could have had a much different ending. But thankfully, the heroes lived to tell the tale.

"You sit back and say 'wow, that was way too close for comfort,'" Rasulo said. "In the moment, for the most part I think everyone just caught their breath, did what they needed to do and then afterward the realization hit how close it was."