Altoona (WQOW) - If you saw smoke and flames while driving along Highway 12 in Altoona on Saturday, it wasn't an emergency. What appeared to be a house fire was more: it was actually burn training for local firefighters.
A house was donated to both the Altoona Fire Department and Eau Claire fire crews to literally tear apart for drills and simulations.
The building provides a way for firefighters to practice ventilation, containing blazes, and using hydraulic techniques.
Altoona Fire Chief Mark Renderman said his department is grateful for the chance to hone the skills that are harder to gain in a typical training exercise.
"Houses don't come along as often as you would like to use them, and they are not the same as a burn simulator," said Renderman. "This is more live fire, more training, you get to rip walls apart, you get to rip the ceiling down, you get to take windows out, you get to cut holes in the roof."
Renderman added by getting this hands-on training with a real structure fire, it helps firefighters save lives when a real emergency comes along.