First Arriving Network
First Arriving Network

Updated: 2 Civilians Dead, 2 FF’s Injured At In-Town House Fire – Lancaster Pa.

R.I.T. Rescues Primary Searchers

Update:  Radio traffic w/ Mayday added.  Scroll down.

A LANCASTER, PENNSYLVANIA, FIREFIGHTER WAS critically burned Monday morning while attempting to rescue a 38-yr.-old woman and her 6 yr.-old-niece who were trapped in a 2nd-floor bedroom.  Firefighters Andre Kelley and Tom Benders went in as the initial search and rescue team and had reached the second floor when the first floor flashed over, trapping them.  FF Benders managed to find a window and escape, but Kelley was unable to and called a MayDay bringing in the RIT.

He was found and removed quickly, but had already suffered burn-related injuries and was flown to the Crozer-Chester Medical center where he is in critical but stable condition.  Benders was treated and released at a local hospital.

Very quickly the house was fully involved and the second floor holding the two victims collapsed onto the first floor.  After the fire was out, it took a few hours to locate the victims' bodies.  A man and his son were sleeping in a basement bedroom and managed to escape the fire before the FD arrived.

The first-in company arrived within five minutes and the four-alarm dispatch brought about 60-70 firefighters to the scene.  Extreme cold caused freezing problems with the hose lines and ground surfaces.

Update, 3:30 pm:
The radio traffic for this incident has been provided by AlertPage.  It has been compressed  by eliminated dead air spaces.  The first MayDay call is heard at the 3:35 mark.  Click on the image below:


The Lancaster Intelligencer Journal adds:

Luis Garcia, 41, awoke to the sound of voices and other noises outside his 224 E. Madison St. home. He was watching television and wasn't too concerned until he heard a banging on a window.

Garcia went to his window and spotted the smoke. "I thought the basement of my house was on fire," he said.

Garcia went outside and a man who lives in 225 E. Madison St. ran toward him. The neighbor said his sister and a child were still in the house and he asked Garcia to call 911. Garcia quickly got his girlfriend to call 911.

"When firefighters were breaking the top windows on the second floor, I heard screaming," Garcia said. "I don't think I'm going to forget it."

The coroner was called to the scene following the discovery of the victims.  Investigators have begun their task, but no early indications of the cause have been found.

WHTM-TV filed this video report from the scene:

 abc27 WHTM

Read the full story in the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal HERE.

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