A four-alarm fire at 604 Main St. in Oxford early Monday destroyed a local hair salon and adjoined apartment building. There were no injuries.
However, two Auburn firefighters who were providing mutual aid to Oxford Fire narrowly escaped injury while searching the building.
Oxford Fire received a call from a motorist around 2:00am Monday morning for a structure fire at 604 Main Street with heavy smoke and fire showing. Auburn Fire Rescue was immediately requested mutual aid by Oxford.
According to Auburn Assistant Fire Chief, Glenn Johnson, “The Oxford and Auburn companies arrived at about the same time. Our guys entered the building to perform a primary search. While searching for anyone trapped in the building, conditions deteriorated very quickly.”
“The firefighters could see the linoleum off-gassing and bubbling, and their facepieces were noticeably moving from the excessive heat.”
According to Johnson, the building layout was a little odd, and the firefighters became disoriented. Additionally, the firefighters recognized the signs of an impending flashover, and signaled a mayday.
A flashover is when everything in the room reaches ignition temperature and the entire room bursts into flames, according to Johnson. “A flashover is not usually survivable” he added.
The firefighters’ training immediately kicked in, and they were able to locate a window in the room, which they smashed. Both firefighters dove headfirst out the window, landing on the roof of the first-level salon. “It was about a 3’ foot drop, thankfully” said Johnson.
Seconds after the firefighters escaped, the second floor burst into flames.
Johnson emphasized how the firefighters’ situational awareness and training probably saved their lives. “We train for these scenarios” said Johnson. “From the time they arrive on scene, the firefighters are checking the situation, the building layout, where the doors and windows are. This is why.”
According to Oxford Fire Department, the cause of the fire is believed to have been electrical, and damage is estimated at $200,000. The building housed Shagged Hair Salon and two apartments.