CRESSONA (SCHUYLKILLCOUNTY, PA: On November 26, 2011 at 18:24 hours the Cressona and Schuylkill Haven Fire Department were dispatched to Front and Railroad Streets in Cressona for a working commercial building fire. Local neighbors spotted flames shooting from the Cressona Textile Waste Inc. warehouse building on Railroad Street in Cressona. The building is used to store old scrap rags which are repackaged for resale. The Cressona Fire Chief went on scene and reported he had smoke showing from the entire building.
Cressona Engine 41-10, Engine 41-17, Schuylkill Haven Engine 732, Engine 737, and Ladder 725 were the first units on scene and went into offensive operations. Cressona Fire Chief 41 established incident command and request a second alarm to the scene. Pottsville West End Ladder 51 and RIT Team from Pottsville City were dispatched to the scene. Engine 732 lay in from a hydrant on Railroad Street and on the south end of the building. The crew then deployed multiple hose lines to attack the fire. Schuylkill Haven hose line crews advance hose lines to the Charlie Side of the structure. The crew from Ladder 725 set up and placed their ladder into service on the south end on Railroad Street. The attack crews found fire throughout the building and extending through the roof. The fire spread quickly through the roof and took over the entire building.
Cressona Engine 41-10 established a connection to a hydrant at Chestnut and Front Streets. The engine dropped supply line and pumped to Ladder 51, Engine 737, Engine 72 and Engine 11. West End Ladder 51 was the second ladder on scene and sent its ladder into the air to do master stream work. Pottsville Engine 11 was the first RIT companies on the scene and staged on the North side of the structure.
The Incident Commander sized up the building and found that there were numerous parts of the building burning. He then requests a third alarm and a tanker task force to respond to the scene. In 15 minutes the 3rd alarm units were arriving on the scene and staged in the area. The 3rd Alarm brought in Ladder 519, Rescue 518, Engine 47-10, 34-55 and multiple tankers.
The fire condition in the building worsened and Command decided to go into defensive mode to hit the fire. Two major collapses took placed which came close to fire fighters. A PAR report was then taken on the fire ground of all fire fighters. A multiple master stream attack from engine deck guns, portable monitors and ladders surrounded the building.
The defensive operation caused a very drastic problem with water pressure that was being taken from hydrants. It was then decided to have Landingville Engine 47-10 draft from a dump site at Front and Schuylkill Streets. Engine 47-10 feed Engine 41-17 and Ladder 725. Engine 732 then pump water to Ladder 519 on the south end of the fire building.
Commands then activate a "Tanker Shuttle Operation" which brought in: District 42 (Deer Lake), District 39 (Auburn), District 3 (Llewellyn), District 53 (Mount Carbon), and District 34, Station 1 (Friedensburg). A number of tanker and engine companies responded to the scene from Berks County. Pottsville American Hose Engine 72 and Minersville Engine 514 were sent to Stoyer’s Dam to set up a tanker refill site. A number of local fire police units were called to the scene to shut down the nearby streets.
Schuylkill Haven and Pottsville EMS were on scene for Rehab operations. American Red Cross responds their response vehicle and assists the EMS crews. District 58 (Pine Grove HH&L) units and Hamburg’s ladder truck stood by at a Schuylkill Haven fire station throughout the incident.
The building was a total loss and had to be demolished to prevent rekindles. The owner had other warehouse buildings that have burned down in March 2006 and April 2010. The State Police Arson investigator will be investigating this fire very closely stated the Incident Commander. Cressona fire units didn't’t leave the fire scene till the next morning. A number of other fire units were redirected to respond to a second multiple alarm fire at the China Buffet on Route 61 in North Manheim Township. Fire units returned back to the fire scene the next day for two rekindles caused by a leaking oil tank.