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Billings Fire Department urges public to exercise caution during structure fires

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Posted at 5:14 PM, May 19, 2024

BILLINGS — A pair of Billings South Side teen brothers jumped to action to save their neighbor's pets from two burning trailers without a thought last weekend. Many have commended the two on their acts of heroism but the Billings Fire Department said it could have ended much differently and urges the public to maintain a safe distance in situations like this one.

“It was like I wasn’t even me at that point. I just ran and halfway across the street my shoes came off so I just kept going,” said 15-year-old Draeven Cox Saturday.

Cox and his 13-year-old brother, Raider Reicher, made it out of the flames unscathed.

“The mom was in the back, I ran back there, helped her get out. And the kids were already out and the animals, so we grabbed like two dogs and two cats,” Reicher said.

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13-year-old Raider Reicher and 15-year-old Draeven Cox after receiving a certificate of recognition for their actions from the C&C Community.

Though the situation ended up with no human lives lost, Billings Fire Department said that could have not been the case.

“We’re really glad that it worked out well in that scenario for that family, but that’s not a recommendation that we would ever give,” said Billings Deputy Fire Marshall, Becky Biggins Friday.

Biggins said there are several reasons why you should never go inside a burning building.

“Even if you don’t see active flame where you are, the smoke is present and that can hurt you. Often times, that’s what hurts people more than actual flame,” Biggins added.

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Billings Deputy Fire Marshall Becky Biggins

She said that one big gulp of super heated air filled with smoke and gasses can actually kill you.

“There’s hydrogen cyanide, carbon monoxide, lots of different harmful chemicals that can come into your body from breathing those gasses,” said Biggins.

It doesn't help that the majority of materials used to build homes are now synthetic compared to natural materials used decades ago.

“A flame can go from being incipient, just barely starting to having everything in that room completely engulfed in flame in three to five minutes. That’s the average it takes in today’s environment,” Biggins said.

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One of the destroyed trailers in the C&C Community on the Billings South Side.

With an average response time of six minutes, it's understandable why Billings Fire would warn against the public taking matters into their own hands.

It's why the department has implemented a new training program for kids in Billings Public Schools, focusing on the importance of staying out of burning buildings when fires ensue.

“It’s devastating when you see your property going up in flames. We talk to people all the time who are having their absolutely worst day, it’s awful. But people are not replaceable, property and possessions are,” said Biggins.