NEW PHILADELPHIA (SCHUYLKILL COUNTY), PA: On November 18, 2010 at 05:30 hours the New Philadelphia, Cumbola-Blythe Township, Kaska-Blythe Township, Port Carbon, Middleport, Pottsville Phoenix Fire Companies, and Pottsville EMS were dispatched to 78 Water Street in New Philadelphia for a structure fire with possible entrapment. New Philadelphia firefighters arrived in minutes and found flames coming from the rear of a row home. The fire continued to spread quickly and began to move through out the block of row homes. Pottsville City RIT Team was requested and then dispatched to the scene. Good Intent Engine 11 and American Squad 72 responded to the fire scene to do RIT.
New Philadelphia Engine 54-11, Blythe Township Engines 2-10 and 2-16 arrived on scene first and found a working fire. Engine 2-10 established a water supply from a hydrant on Macomb Street and attack the fire from Middle Street. Engine 54-11 stage in front of the homes and made a defensive attack to stop the fire. The additional engine crews backed up the attack crew and moved hose lines to the exposure homes to stop the spreading fire. Cumbola Engine 2-16 established a third water supply and advance defensive attack lines to the rear of the homes. Port Carbon Engine 59-10 responded to the scene and established a water supply from a dump site at Kimber and Water Streets. Palo Alto Engine 612 pumped from the dump tank and feed Engine 49-10. Tuscarora Engine 27-17 staged on Wiggan Street and assist pumping water to Engine 2-17. The first and second alarm engines sent their manpower to the fire scene to assist with operations.
The fire engulfed the Water Street row homes and caused the fire fighters to battle the fire from the street. The fire grew and then extended into the row homes of 74-86 Water Street. Incident command ordered a second alarm and tanker task force to the scene. Command ordered all personnel away from the falling building and the collapse zone. The engines operated their master stream deck guns and large hose lines to knocked down the fire. Ladder 21 arrived on scene and ordered to set up in front of the exposure row homes on the B Side. Ladder 21 hundred-foot ladder was placed into service and stood by to flowed water. Saint Clair Tower-Ladder 701 backed up to the fire scene and staged in front of the homes to assist with overhaul. Tower 701 set its platform in the air and overhauled on the smoldering buildings. Minersville Ladder 519 responded to the fire scene and assisted with overhaul operations.
Fire fighters enter the exposure homes with additional hose lines and stopped the fire spread. The smoke and fire conditions in the exposure homes improved and the fire was under control by 09:00 hours. Fire fighters continued to overhaul the row homes and check for hot spots. The entire fire was out by 10:00 hours and allowed some mutual aid units be released from the scene. First alarm fire fighters continued to wet down the collapsed homes remains until all hot spots were out.
It was determined by 09:00 hours by fire officials that two female residents were unable to escape the flames and smoke. The mother and daughter’s bodies were located in Water Street. It was later determined the two females died from smoke inhalation per the Schuylkill County Coroner. The fire chief reported that there were no injuries to fire fighters.
It was reported the fast moving fire destroyed the homes at 74-86 Water Street. The fire chief believes the fire started in the rear of the row homes and does appear to be suspicious in origin. An arson fire destroyed a bar with apartments across the street last October and still remains under investigation. An arson fire destroyed a vacant apartment building and a number row homes last month a block away. Fire officials and the Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshal is currently investigating the cause of the fire. The State Police Major Case Unit is currently looking for the arsonist who has been starting the arson fires in the two-block radius the past two years.