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Updated & Video Added: Fire In The Firehouse – Pennsylvania

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.

Republican Herald

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.

Republican Herald

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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Comments - Add Yours

  • B.Morgan

    How many fire stations have smoke/fire detectors and sprinklers installed and wired to a 24 hour dispatch? In a case like this it would have at least probably saved the building. Fire safety and protections begins at home, in this case the fire station.

    • EvilRZK – WP45

      VOLUNTEER Stations don’t always have the funding to be able to afford this sort of protection. We’re at the mercy of what grants, donations, and “budget” allows. Yes Fire Safety begins at home, and I bet there were working smoke detectors… however if no one is in the house… who calls 911 until someone sees it?

      • MeatPuppet

        Don’t even start the paid vs. volunteer deal, we have all seen the affluent volunteer departments with more money and the latest and greatest technology than they know what to do with (fern creek ky fire department), and career departments rubbing pennies to make quarters (detroit michigan). There have even been career stations that have burned down to total loss, while guys were asleep inside (montgomery county kentucky, mount sterling station; no one injured). Just because you have a paid department doesn’t mean your station won’t burn down.

    • Ehcfire117

      It really depends on the budget and resources each department has. Fortunate departments have all protective systems whereas smaller departments may have outdated systems or inability to maintain the systems. In the fire community, we don’t think our departments would have to incurr the same type of tragedy we joined to respond to…seems very ironic. However, as you say, safety starts at the home/station. It can be very easy to take things for granted.

      I want to find a way to help our fellow department out with their loss. Any ideas where we can send in donations?

  • East side truckster

    I’m a career firefighter in buffalo ny. Im sorry to read about your fire in your firestation. I feel your pain we had the same thing happen to engine 33 one night. The went on a run, and neighbors next to the firehouse called 911 and said the firehouse was on fire. A lot of damage to the firehouse. God speed on your clean up and getting back to doing the great work you do!!!!!!!!

  • EvilRZK – WP45

    I hope that they can save the outer shell of the building and rebuild. Maybe another department can donate an extra truck, or the public will help with fundraising. That’s a heavy blow for a department, volunteer or paid. I’ve rode on trucks from the 60’s because the Fire Station at the time couldn’t afford to get new trucks. So please folks… don’t get all snitty about “Well they should’ve had this in place.. .and that in place…” The Chief may have wanted it… but didn’t have the funding for it. Just show these guys your support. It just destroyed part of their house. How would you like it if fire burnt your house down and you got “well you should’ve had —” etc.