MAHANOY CITY (SCHUYLKILL COUNTY), PA: On April 5, 2011 at 02:45 hours the Mahanoy City Fire Department (Five Stations), Mahanoy City Ambulance, Goodwill-Frackville Ladder 43-20 and Altamont Engine 367 (RIT Team) were dispatched to 915 East Pine Street in Mahanoy City for a working structure fire.
The Mahanoy City Police was first dispatched to the location minutes earlier for a hanged up 911 call. The police unit arrived on location to find intense flames coming from the first floor of the row home. The female resident was standing out side the home with burns to her hands. She stated she was sleeping on the sofa when she awoke to dense smoke and heat. She was able to escape the fire in the home and summon the neighbors for help. The police officer then notified the dispatcher that he was on the scene of a working house fire. The fire continued to spread quickly and began to move through out the walls of 2 ½ story row home. The Fire Chief quickly ordered the second alarm prior to the first units arriving on scene.
Citizens Tower Ladder 456 and Humane Engine 451 arrived on scene first and found heavy flame venting from the first and second floor windows. The fast moving fire then spread to the attic of the next-door D Side exposure home. Engine 451 hooked to a hydrant East Pine Street and laid into the fire from the B Side. Engine 454 established a second water supply from the hydrant at 12th and Pine Street. Engine 451 made a defensive attack to stop the fire in the initial fire building with it deck gun. A number of hose lines from Engine 451 and Engine 454 were placed into operation and deployed into the exposure homes. Attack crews made an attempt to gain entry into the first exposure home to knock down the intense flames. The heat from the common attic fire kept the attack team at the top of the steps.
West End Engine 465 hooked to a hydrant at 12th and Market Street. The engine lay in and staged behind the burning row home on Market Street. Engine 465 crews attacked the fire building and entered the exposure residences to stop the spreading fire. The West End fire fighters advanced a number of hose lines into the back yard of the fire building. The fire fighters egress was blocked by limited rear access. The crews used ground ladder to gain access to the fire and exposure buildings. The attack crew attempted to enter the back door of the home but was hampered by obstacles that blocked the rear entrance.
Good American Tanker 462 obtained a fourth water supply from a hydrant and staged in front of Engine 465 and advanced additional hose lines to the rear of the fire building. Fire fighters from the West End went on the exposure buildings rear roof and ventilated it. Washington Ladder 457 staged at the East side of the exposure homes and sent its main ladder to the roof of the far east exposure home.
Tower 456 was staged in front of Engine 451 and its crew was on the roof of the residence to do ventilation. Additional fire fighters from Engine 451 and Engine 454 entered the exposure residences with additional hose lines and searched for extension.
Incident Command requested additional manpower to enter the exposure homes to check and stop fire extension in the common attics. It was then determined that more fire fighters were needed due to spreading fire and row home building construction. The Mahanoy City Fire Chief decided to have third alarm companies dispatched to the scene.
The Altamont Fire Company Engine 367 responded to the scene and took over the initial RIT Team Operations. Engine 367 crew staged in front of the fire building on the east side. Engine 367 crew provided RIT Operations until relieved by the Pottsville City RIT Team. Frackville-Goodwill Fire Company Ladder 43-20 responded to the scene and staged on Pine Street just west of the fire. The ladder crew moved up on the west side exposure home roof and made a defensive attack with hose lines.
Engine companies from Englewood-Butler Township, Hometown-Rush Township, Ryan Township, Hazle Township and Tamaqua were sent to the scene to assist with extra manpower. McAdoo Ladder first was order to transfer but was later sent to the scene as the fourth truck company. Pottsville City Engine 71 and RIT Team (Engine 32 and Engine 41) responded and were put to work right away. Tamaqua Rescue 992 responded to the scene for its air system and refilled cylinders. Shenandoah Engine 742 and Squirt 745 were sent to the Citizens station for stand by for Mahanoy City.
The smoke and fire conditions in all of the exposure homes were contained. The first two homes second floors collapse making impossible to gain entry inside to overhaul. Fire continued to burn in the first two homes and was in needed to be extinguished. Tower 456 was repositioned on the first initial fire buildings. Tower 456 turned on it elevated platform master stream and shot water into the windows of the collapse home. In less than two hours the fire conditions improved and the multi-alarm fire became under controlled. The operating crews had the fire out in less than three hours with no rekindles. The fire chief believes the fire started in first floor of the home in the furnace. The fire then traveled up through the walls into the common attic of the row homes.
The Mahanoy City Fire Chief reported that there were no serious injuries to fire fighters. There were two residents transported to a local hospital with minor injuries. EMS units from Mahanoy City, Frackville, Shenandoah and Ryan Township took care of the displaced residents and provided Rehab to the fire fighters. The American Red Cross responded with their Emergency Response Unit and provided hot coffee to the tired fire fighters
The homes at 915 to 917 East Pine Street received were destroyed and will need to be torn down. The home at 919 to 923 East Pine Street received fire, water and smoke damage. Mahanoy City Fire Chief Randy Kalce credited the brave actions of the first arriving police officer on saving a handicap resident and warning the rest of the block. He thanked all mutual aid fire fighters for their great job in help stopping the fast spreading fire that occurred in home that is in the middle of the block of row homes.