FRACKVILLE, (SCHUYLKILL COUNTY), PA: On January 2, 2011 at 00:07 hours the Goodwill Fire Company-Frackville; Altamont Hose Company-West Mahanoy Township; Citizens Fire Company-Mahanoy City; Friendship Fire Company-Englewood Butler Township; and Frackville Ambulance were dispatched to 522 west Howard Street in Frackville for a possible house fire. Frackville Police arrived in minutes and found intense flames coming the front of the row home. The police then reported it was a working fire and it was quickly spreading to the next-door homes. Frackville Chief 43 quickly arrived on scene, assumed incident command and requested the second alarm with the Mahanoy City RIT Team. The fire continued to spread quickly and began to move to the exposure homes on the both sides.
Engines 369, 367, 43-15 and Ladder 43-20 arrived on scene and went to work at attacking the fire. Englewood Engine 369 established a water supply from a hydrant a block away at Fourth and Oak Street. The engine laid into A-D Corner and made a defensive attack to stop the fire with its deck gun. Frackville Ladder 43-20 staged in a parking lot near the A-D Side corner. The ladder crew searched the involved homes looking for trapped or injured residents. Frackville Engine 43-15 hooked to a hydrant at Chestnut and Third Street and staged in rear of the structure. The engine crew found the rear of the home fully involved and spreading to others. The crew advanced a number of large and small hose lines to knocked down the heavy volume of fire. Altamont Engine 367 lay in from a hydrant at Third and Oak Street and advance attack lines to the A-B exposure homes. The additional fire fighters backed up the initial crews and attacked the spreading fire in the exposure homes. Mahanoy City Citizens Tower-ladder 456 staged first in the parking lot on the A-D Side. The tower was then redirected to move to end of homes on the D Side. The platform was raised and a crew was sent to the roof of the homes to do ventilation. The tower crew made a number of trench cuts on the west side of the fire to stop its advance.
Ryan Township Engine 26-10, Mahanoy Plane Engine 44-10, Shenandoah Columbia Fire Company Engine 742, and Shenandoah Rescue Hook & Ladder Tiller-Ladder 745 were then dispatched on the second alarm. Incident Command then requested an additional alarm to respond to the scene to assist with the multiple row home fire. Pottsville City Humane Engine 32, Girardville Engine 45-10 and additional EMS units responded to the scene.
The Mahanoy City Fire Department West End Rescue 993 and Humane Engine 451 responded to the scene to provided RIT Team operations. Incident Command then reassigned Humane Engine 451 to connect to a water supply in rear of the fire building and advance hose lines to the fire. Pottsville City Humane Engine 32 hooked to a hydrant at Second and Chestnut Street and fed Engine 451 with water. Shenandoah Rescue Hook & Ladder Tiller-Ladder 745, Mahanoy Plane Engine 44-10 and Shenandoah Columbia Engine 742 staged in the nearby Boyer’s Supermarket parking lot and assisted with the fire attack operations. Incident Command then ordered West End Rescue 993 to due RIT and stand by on the A-D Side. Incident Command then requested the Schuylkill Haven RIT Team to respond to the scene as the second RIT Team.
The smoke and fire conditions on the second floor and roof worsen and additional hose line crews were order into the exposure structures. The fire was helped by the wooded building construction and ran through out the roof causing the ventilations crews to retreat. Heavy fire then vented from the initial fire building making the roof and floors to collapse.
The fire was then contained and fire fighters re-entered the homes with incident. The fire fighters extinguished the remaining fire and overhauled the still standing homes. The fire was under controlled in three hours and most fire units returned by 03:30 hours..
Chief 43 determined there were still small amounts of fire still burning in the collapse homes. Fire fighters were then resent into the homes with hose lines to extinguish the fire. Chief 43 then had Ladder 43-20 set up on the A Side of the building. Ladder 43-20 charged its elevated master stream and soaked down the still burning area of the homes. The fire was then extinguished for the last time and the scene was placed under controlled. Chief 43 had a crew to remain on the scene through out the morning to watch for any new rekindles.
Frackville, Shenandoah, Ashland ambulances and the American Red Cross provided Rehab support on the scene and through out the incident. The fire chief believes the fire started in the first floor of the collapse home. The cause of the fire does not appear to be suspicious in origin but remains undetermined. The fire chief reported that there were no injuries to fire fighters or effected residents. The row of ten homes received major damage and will need to be torn down in the future.