House fire nearly collapses on firefighters

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BOISE, ID. (CNN) - As fire crews battled a three-alarm house fire in Boise Idaho, one firefighter realized just in the nick of time that the blazing building was seconds away from collapsing.

Firefighters scattered as the house came down, spewing flaming debris in all directions like an explosion.

Scott Logan reports.

It happened in the blink of an eye.

Fortunately, an alert Boise Fire Captain Randy Christiensen saw it coming and radioed warning of imminent collapse.

As fire crews backed away, the burning house collapsed almost on top of them, splattering some firefighters with burning debris and knocking a few of them to the ground.

Firefighters scrambled to help their colleagues.

Boise Fire Chief Dennis Doan says Christiensen's training and experience saved the day.

"We could have had firefighters trapped underneath here. It was chaos for a little bit, because we did think we had one trapped under there."

But everyone answered the roll call, and there were only minor injuries.

Fifty-five firefighters had responded to the rare three-alarm blaze.

They were in defensive mode, meaning they stayed outside of the burning house because it was unoccupied.

Their goal was to keep the fire from destroying surrounding homes and they succeeded.

But take another look at the risk these fire crews take:

"We get roof collapse quite often, but not this significant and this large of a home."

Since the Boise Fire Department was founded in 1876, five firefighters have lost their lives in the line of duty.

This dash cam video from a battalion chief's truck shows how constant training -- and an experienced eye on the fire -- can make all the difference in the outcome of an inferno.

Authorities are still investigating the cause of the fire that brought the house down.