Fire Destroys Ladder Truck
Regional Fire Convention Begins Same Day
Update #1, Sunday pm: Fire point of origin identified.
Update #2, Sunday pm: Video added. Scroll down.
MAHANOY CITY, PENNSYLVANIA, took a heavy loss Saturday morning when fire swept through one of the city's volunteer fire stations and destroyed their apparatus.
The Washington Hook & Ladder Co. was all set to help welcome firefighters from throughout Northeastern Pennsylavania to the annual Schuylkill County Volunteer Firefighters Convention which begins today. But the celebration has been dampened by the early-morning fire.
The Republican Herald is reporting:
Around 4:40 a.m. a call was received of smoke in the unit block of East Mahanoy Ave. and borough police Lt. John Kaczmarczyk arrived to investigate.
Kaczmarczyk, a long time member of the Washington Hook and Ladder Co., saw heavy flames inside the engine room of his fire company at 35 E. Mahanoy Ave. and immediately upgraded the smoke investigation to a working structure fire.
Due to the intense flames the officer was unable to enter the building to get the aerial truck out and quickly drove a short distance to pull a street box and alert neighbors.
Firefighters from Mahanoy City and surrounding communities responded with first in units encountering heavy fire blowing out of the bay doors.
When the fire was brought under control the extent of damage was evident. Inside was the company’s 1993 Simon Duplex aerial truck that was purchased in 2011 for $249,500.
As you can expect, the state police fire investigator is just beginning his work to determine the cause of the fire that not only destroyed the aerial, but gutted the interior of the firehouse.
Update, Sunday afternoon:
The state police fire inspector disclosed Sunday morning that the fire had started in the cab of the aerial truck. However, he has not yet determined what caused the fire. The Republican Herald reported in a later edition:
"It started in the cab of the truck," state police Fire Marshal Trooper John F. Burns of the Frackville station said at the scene about noon. He was referring to the company's 1993 Simon Duplex aerial truck which the company at 35 E. Mahanoy St. bought in 2011 for $249,500.
"It will be in the high hundreds of thousands of dollars to replace it," borough fire Chief Randy Kalce said. Members of the fire company boarded up the burned out garage doors Saturday night.
In addition to the apparatus being destroyed, Blackwell said the remainder of the engine room and upstairs meeting rooms sustained extensive damage.
The firefighter turnout gear on the truck was destroyed, according to Mike Matunis, the fire company's chief. "We're not sure if the building is a total loss," Matunis said. "It sustained heavy damage," Kalce said.
"You can't replace a building like this. It was built in 1887. But I'm assuming the building's a total loss because of the damage. Where the truck is sitting, the concrete floor is sagging. The joists between the second floor and third floor are burned out. And if you look up in there, you can see right through the ceiling," Matunis said, as he pointed to a shaft of sunlight coming through the roof.
Update #2, Sunday afternoon:
Andrew Leibenguth has posted this video from the scene showing the basic fireground:
Thanks to Carmine S.
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