Paramedics save the day

Pocatello Fire Department paramedics Austin White, left, and Mark Mendez are being praised for spotting and quickly confronting a wildfire burning in a residential neighborhood on the city’s north side on Wednesday afternoon.

POCATELLO — A Fire Department ambulance crew might have saved a city neighborhood from falling victim to a wildfire on Wednesday afternoon.

Paramedics Mark Mendez and Austin White were returning to their fire station in Ambulance 3 around 3:30 p.m. when they spotted 10-foot high flames in a residential neighborhood on the city’s north side.

Mendez and White were traveling northbound on Jefferson Avenue at the time and the flames they saw were hundreds of yards away in the Holman Avenue area.

They immediately turned on Ambulance 3’s lights and siren, reported the fire to the city’s emergency dispatch center and sped toward the blaze.

Pocatello was being hammered by winds of around 45 mph on Wednesday afternoon so Mendez and White knew they had to get to the fire quickly before the gusts could cause the flames to rapidly spread.

They found the blaze burning about 50 feet from a house in the 900 block of Holman Avenue. The paramedics quickly turned on the home’s garden hose and got to work battling the flames.

Reinforcements soon arrived in the form of other Pocatello Fire Department units and the wildfire was contained and extinguished in less than an hour.

The fire, which scorched a grassy area of about 100 square feet, did not result in any injuries to people or damage to any of the homes in the neighborhood.

Fire Department officials said they’re not sure what might have caused the fire, but a resident had been using a chainsaw earlier in the day in the area where the fire occurred and it’s possible the chainsaw hit a rock, causing a spark that eventually ignited the blaze.

Both Mendez and White were with the Pocatello Fire Department during the 2012 Charlotte Fire, which destroyed over 60 houses just south of Pocatello city limits. The seventh anniversary of that massive blaze is coincidentally about a week away.

Mendez and White knew the importance of getting to the fire on Holman Avenue before it could grow into something disastrous.

Pocatello Fire Department officials praised Mendez and White for their quick response to a fire that could have become much worse had it not been for the paramedics’ efforts. Who knows when the fire would have been reported had Mendez and White not spotted it when they did.

Mendez, a 14-year Fire Department veteran, and White, who’s been with the department for seven years, said they were just doing their jobs on Wednesday afternoon, adding that it’s not uncommon for them to encounter such emergency situations while driving Ambulance 3.

But by spotting and then quickly confronting the flames burning along Holman Avenue, the two paramedics definitely went above and beyond in the eyes of one grateful Pocatello neighborhood.