SHENANDOAH (SCHUYLKILL COUNTY, PA): On August 6th 2011 at 03:40 hours the Shenandoah Fire Department Fire Chief and Marshals were dispatched to the area of Coal and Jardin Street for an odor investigation. Shenandoah Police arrived in the area first and found smoke coming from the rear of 122 north Jardin Street. The police officer quickly notified the dispatch center that he was on the scene of a working structure fire.
Shenandoah Fire Department (Five Stations), Mahanoy City West End Rescue 993 and Shenandoah Ambulance were then dispatched to 122 north Jardin Street in Shenandoah for a working house fire. The Shenandoah Fire Chief and EMS arrived in minutes and found smoke coming from the A Side of a row home in the middle of the block. The fire spread quickly and began to move to the roof within the walls of the home.
Phoenix Engine 747 and Rescue Hook & Ladder Squirt 745 arrived on the scene first. Engine 747 connected to a hydrant on Jardin Street and laid into the fire scene. Engine 747 staged in the front of the home on the Alpha-Bravo Corner and deployed attack lines. Squirt 745 arrived on scene and staged in front of Engine 747. The Squirt sent its ladder to the roof of the home on Side Alpha. A crew went to the roof to make a number vertical ventilation holes. Fire fighters advanced hose lines from Squirt 745 in to the front door of the home at 122 Jardin Street to attack the fire. A number of hose lines from Engine 747 were deployed in to the exposure home on the Side Bravo.
Polish American Engine-Tanker 759 established water supplies from a hydrant on Lloyd Street. The tanker laid into the fire scene and supplied Engine 747 with hydrant water. Defender Engine 751 obtained another water supply from a hydrant on west Coal Street. The engine then staged on Jardin Street behind Squirt 745. Engine 751 sent its crew into the exposure residences on the Delta Side on Jardin Street. The additional Shenandoah fire fighters who arrived on scene entered the exposure homes to look for spreading fire. Ladder 745 staged in rear of the homes a block away on north West Street. West End Rescue 993 staged block away and sent its manpower to the scene to assist with RIT operations. A number of West End fire fighters were then used to back up the initial attack crews in the initial fire building.
The initial attack crews found moderate fire conditions in the basement and kitchen area. The fire was quickly knocked down and the area was overhauled for hot spots. The fire appeared to be under control after the first PAR check. The interior crews vacated the home and reported to rehab and get air cylinders refilled. In fifteen minutes smoke could be seen pushing from Alpha Side exterior walls and the front roof facade.
Command ordered crews to re-enter the fire building and exposure homes to check on conditions. Re-con teams found high levels of heat and thick smoke on the second and third floors. It was determine the fire was spreading in the walls and working its way to the vent holes in the roof. The fire was also moving into the exposure homes common attic areas.
Command quickly ordered crews into the exposure homes to stop the new spreading fire. The exposure attack crews stretched hose lines into the attics where they found heavy heat and smoke conditions. The fire spread through the walls and ceilings into the second exposure home’s attic on the Bravo Side. The smoke conditions in the first exposure home worsen and the fire spread to the roof vent cuts. Shenandoah Fire Chief 740 order the second alarm dispatched and to respond to the scene. Mahanoy City West End Fire Company Engine 465, Englewood-Butler Township Engine 369, Shenandoah Heights-West Mahanoy Township Engine 881, Frackville-Goodwill Ladder 43-20, and Frackville Ambulance were dispatched and responded to the scene.
Squirt 745 placed its elevated ladder above the roof of the initial fire building and exposure homes. The fire chief ordered additional hose lines into the initial fire exposure homes when dense black smoke vented from the roof vent holes. The second alarm units staged in the area and sent their manpower to the fire scene. Frackville Ladder 43-20 staged behind Engine 747 and sent its 109 foot ladder to the exposure home’s roof. The crew from Ladder 43-20 proceeded to the roof to assist with ventilation. The second alarm engine crews were ordered to report to the Alpha Side and wait for assignments.
The incident commander ordered additional hose line crews into the exposure homes. The conditions in the attic of the two homes worsen causing the hose lines crews to retreat out side the home. In matter of minutes the attic flashed over and flames shoot through the roof. The roof teams on the fire buildings were order to evacuate the roofs of both homes. A large front section of the roof of the fire building broke away and collapsed on to the sidewalk. Command then ordered a third alarm to the scene for additional manpower. Engine Companies from Mahanoy City Citizens, Girardville, Ashland, and Ringtown, were called to the scene. Pottsville City Goodwill Engine 41 and Humane Engine 32 responded to the scene to take over the RIT Operations.
Command ordered Squirt 745 to open up its elevated master stream on the large flames venting from the roof. Fire fighters also used hose lines from off of nearby roofs to hit the large flames. A number of large exterior hose lines were put in service and aimed through the upper windows.
Ringtown Engine 30-10 established a water supply from a hydrant on Coal Street and staged behind Ladder 745 on West Street. Fire fighters were then lucky to find an access point to the rear of the fire building. The engine crew advanced number of hose lines into the back yard of the fire building. It was later learned the hydrant on Coal Street was shut done by an unknown person and had to be reopened.
In fifteen minutes the fire in the roof and attic area was knocked down. The fire conditions became under control in the evacuated homes and fire fighters reentered with hose lines. Fire fighters were able to extinguish all the visible fire and were able to move into the overhaul mode. The walls and ceilings on all floors were opened up by the fire fighters to look for hot spots. The crews had the fire under controlled in less than hour. The second and third alarm fire units were then released from the scene before 08:00 hours. Fire fighters remained on the scene overhauling until noon and suffered only one minor rekindle.
The State Police Fire Investigator, Fire Marshals, and the Shenandoah Police Chief and returned back to the scene in the afternoon to investigate the cause of the fire. An electrical problem in the basement was found to be the origin of the fire. The fire chief reported that there were no injuries to fire fighters or residents. The three alarm fire destroyed two and damaged two other row homes. Shenandoah, Ringtown, Frackville, and Lost Creek EMS crews provided rehab services to the fire fighters. The Red Cross Emergency Response Unit responded and assisted the fire fighters and displaced residents.
The multi-alarm fire was the last thing the fire fighters from the Shenandoah Hookies wanted this weekend. The fire company was hosting their annual three day block party, which already had the fire fighters exhausted from the night before. A number of the second and third alarm fire units who responded to the fire past by the fire scene the night earlier during the block party parade.