We were recently dispatched for water pouring from a house and the occupants away. Dispatch advised that forcible entry would be necessary. These are modest two story single-family homes. They are only a few years old.
Neighbors reported that no one had been home for quite some time. They were out of the country. As we looked around the house we found water coming out on all levels, including a walk out basement. When we forced entry, we found that the first floor ceiling had collapsed due to extensive flooding. With the drywall gone, I found that the house was constructed using pressed wood beams. A beam is made with a board on top and bottom and pressed wood is used as the chord. This is known as light wood construction. It is legal and safe as a construction method. However, the thinner wood will burn faster then a typical 2 x 10 floor joist.
This type of construction is getting more popular. We weren’t aware that homes were being built in our area using this method. If a house built with light wood components is involved in heavy fire, a collapse situation can develop much quicker then an older house built with heavy lumber. If you do not know how the fire building was constructed, consider having someone make an exploratory hole in the wall or ceiling to find out. No one wants to cause unnecessary damage to a house, but this is better then having a floor collapse.