POTTSVILLE (SCHUYLKILL COUNTY), PA: On March 5, 2012 at 03:26 hours the Pottsville City Fire Department and Pottsville Area EMS were dispatched to 446 East Market Street for an apartment building fire. Multiple phone calls reported to the 911 dispatcher that there was smoke coming from an apartment building. Initial report of possible entrapment was initially dispatched first.
Pottsville City Fire Chief arrived on scene to find smoke showing from the basement of the three story building. He then informed the dispatcher that he had a working fire and to dispatch the RIT Team from Schuylkill Haven.
Phoenix Ladder 21 took the address and sent its aerial ladder and crew to the roof. Multiple hand lines from the Good Intent Engine 11 were then deployed and advanced into the basement of the building. The remaining Pottsville City fire units staged in the two block radius and sent their crews to the fire scene. It was then determined the building was vacant and un-occupied.
The fire in the basement spread into the walls and quickly extended to the upper floors. In the matter of minutes dense thick smoke was venting from every part of the building. Truck Company crews were then ordered to make multiple ventilation holes in the flat roof. In no time large flames can be seen venting from the roof of the building. Incident Command then requests an engine out of Port Carbon to the scene. The engine’s assignment was to establish an additional water supply if needed.
A number of hose lines were then deployed through out the entire building. Fire fighters were then required to pull walls and ceilings on all three floors. A number of positive pressure fans were used to vent the smoke out of the building.
The incident was brought under control in less than two hours, Incident Command then started to release a number of companies from the scene by 6 AM. Ladder 21 and Engine 11 remained on the scene to assist with the investigation and to watch for rekindles.
Mutual Aid fire units were placed on stand by at City stations and handled a few minor incidents. A few fire fighters received minor injuries do to falls on the icy roadway. The cause of the fire was investigated and appears to be accidental. The fire was caused by a possible short in the electrical panel in the basement.