BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - There's nothing that can replace on the job training, but firefighters typically only get the battle flames during emergency situations. Wednesday, first responders spent the morning on the scene of a fully engulfed house fire in Biloxi that was set ablaze on purpose just for training.
The flames burned hot and fast at the vacant home on Camp Wilkes Road in Biloxi. The blaze was so big it attracted a bit of an audience from other parts of town.
"We saw the flames and we were like, what's burning in Biloxi, looks like it's by the high school. So we said let's go check it out," said Cassandra Walker after pulling up to the fire.
The home has been vacant for years, and the family that owned it donated it to the fire department for the training. After weeks of exercises, simulations, and drills at the house, the fire department set the entire home ablaze.
Fire Chief Joe Boney said chances like this don't come around very often, and when they do it's important to take advantage of it, especially for the newer firefighters.
"It gives these younger guys an opportunity to feel that adrenaline and how to use it to your advantage," said the fire chief.
One of three brand new to the department is Nick Allen. He said this real-life scenario will give him a better idea of how to tackle the next fire.
"I got to go inside and watch how the fire behaves, how the smoke behaves," said Allen. "It's awesome that we get the opportunity here to get live action, live training like this."
"It makes you realize that you have to use your senses - the sense of touch, the sense of heat, what your body is feeling," explained Chief Boney. "You have to listen to your body and you have to know what's going on in your surroundings. You have to be able to see the smoke, what it's doing, the fire, what it's doing, the building, what it's doing, what you think the building is going to be doing."
Some people who live nearby watched the firefighters train and said they felt comforted knowing that the fire department was learning more ways to keep save people's lives.
"Well I know I'm protected by the fire department," said neighbor Terry Welch. "They'll learn a lot of stuff here."
The house took less than two hours to burn to the ground. There were two firefighter injuries during the training that were treated on the scene.