A fire at a large house on the south side of Des Moines is drawing a lot of attention today — but the concern is unwarranted. Des Moines Fire Department spokesman Brian O’Keefe says the department set the house on fire to train its new officers. O’Keefe says they’ve been working in the house the past couple of days leading up to the final phase of training. He says it’s a controlled burn where the firefighters are learning a “defensive operation” where the house is not salvageable and they’re just protecting the space around it so the fire doesn’t spread to trees and the surrounding homes. O’Keefe says the training fire created a large plume of smoke that prompted several calls to dispatchers and he says the area became crowded with onlookers driving by. He says this is a case where the smoke and flames signal something good as the new firefighters are getting some valuable training. He says it’s vital training as you can read about it and watch videos, but here you get in and feel the intense heat and the steam created by the water on the fire. He says you also get the confidence of moving through dense smoke and being able to do your job in those conditions. O’Keefe says they’re letting the two-story house burn to the ground and will be on the scene until that happens and the fire is out.
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