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Thermal camera saves Yakima woman's life

Thermal camera saves Yakima woman's life

YAKIMA, Wash. -- A Yakima woman is recovering after being trapped in an apartment fire. KIMA learned a high-tech camera helped rescuers find her in the smoke-filled rooms.

A thermal camera likely made the difference between life and death in a burning Yakima apartment.

"I can tell you, I can pinpoint right now that the temperature of the palm of my hand is 82 degrees," said Captain Tom Schneider of the Yakima Fire Department.

The camera distinguishes a heat source from flames in order to find a person who may be trapped when firefighters can't see through the smoke.

The fire Wednesday on Hamm Avenue was not the first time the camera was used.

"As you can see it's beat up pretty good," said Schneider. "That's because it gets used a lot."

By using thermal images the woman was found in less than a minute.

"If we didn't have this camera fire fighters have to feel around," said Schneider. "That takes a lot of time. With the camera, they immediately deployed it and then instantly found the lady."

"If it would have been a minute later, it would not have been a very good outcome at all," said neighbor Sean Hagerty.

Sean Hagerty has lived in the apartment complex for two years and has come to know all of his neighbors. He called 911 when he first smelled the heavy smoke.

Smoke thick as night bellowed out of the apartment door. Now, walls are covered in soot. Neighbors told KIMA fire fighters arrived within minutes of the 911 call. A fast response time and thermal camera is what saved a woman's life.

Just in a day's work for Yakima fire.

The woman is recovering in a Seattle hospital.

Firefighters have not yet determined the cause of the fire.

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