On July 8, 2009, a six-alarm fire destroyed an entire block of row-houses in York, PA. The incident required a large mutual aid response because at the time, all front-line city fire apparatus with the exception of one engine were committed to a fire in a junkyard. Mutual aid companies responded...
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Crews could not initially locate the fire. Interior crews encountered heavy smoke and heat with very little fire evident. Numerous life-safety issues existed due to the connected, non-separated multi-family dwellings. Residents of the initial structures self evacuated with one exception. One female resident refused to leave and was evacuated by fire department personnel. The rest of the rowhouses were evacuated by York County Sheriff's Department personnel.
Working Fire Assignment
At 2:56, Shroyer requested a working-fire assignment. Service 99-1, a cascade truck; Manchester Township Heavy Rescue 24; and York Area United Fire & Rescue Engine 89-2, a 1,250-gpm pumper, were dispatched. Service 99-1 was staged and setup for cascade operations. Rescue 24 and Engine 89-2 were also staged and their crews were assigned as rapid intervention teams.
York City Deputy Chief Steve Buffington responded from the scrap yard fire. Upon his arrival at 2:59 P.M., he requested a second alarm. North York Borough Engine 25-2, a 1,250-gpm pumper; Spry/York Township Engine 19, a 2,000-gpm pumper; York Area United Fire & Rescue Engine 89-4, a 1,250-gpm pumper; and York City Truck 99-2, a 100-foot aerial ladder, were dispatched. Engine 25-2 was positioned at Mulberry and Granite streets and supplied with a five-inch line. Engine 89-4 also was positioned at Mulberry and Granite streets and supplied with a five-inch line.
Buffington requested a third alarm at 3:12 P.M. North York Borough Engine 25-1, a 1,250-gpm pumper; Lincolnway/West Manchester Township Engine 5-1, a 1,500-gpm pumper; and Shiloh Fire Company Truck 2, a 105-foot tower ladder with a 1,750-gpm pump, responded. Truck 2 was positioned in front of 703 Chestnut St. and set up for aerial master stream operations. Engine 5-1 was positioned west of Franklin Street on Chestnut Street. This engine was supplied with a five-inch line and fed Truck 2. Engine 25-1 was positioned at the rear of 727/729 Chestnut St. in the alley and supplied with a five-inch line. This engine supplied several handlines as well as its elevated master stream device.
Buffington requested that fourth and fifth alarms be transmitted at 3:15 P.M. Responding on the fourth alarm were Manchester Township Engine 24-1, a 1,500-gpm pumper; Dover Township Engine 9-2, a 1,250-gpm pumper; Jacobus Engine 18-1, a 1,250-gpm pumper; Strinestown Heavy Rescue 26; and West York Borough Truck 1, a 75-foot aerial with a 1,500-gpm pump. The fifth-alarm assignment included York Area United Fire & Rescue Engine 89-3, a 1,500-gpm pumper; York New Salem Engine 8-1, a 750-gpm pumper; Thomasville Engine 3-1, a 1,500-gpm pumper; and Spring Grove Truck 4, a 103-foot snorkel with a 1,250-gpm pump. Engine 24-1 was positioned on Hudson Street near Sherman Street and hooked onto the hydrant with a five-inch line, then stood by as an additional water supply. Truck 1 was positioned at Chestnut and Franklin streets and set up for aerial master stream operations, supplied by a five-inch line.
At 3:20, Buffington requested a sixth alarm. Dallastown Borough Engine 35-1, a 1,500-gpm pumper; Dover Township Engine 9-1, a 1,500-gpm pumper; East Prospect Heavy Rescue 42; and Red Lion Borough Truck 34, a 100-foot aerial, responded. Engine 9-1 was positioned on Chestnut Street east of Mulberry. This unit was supplied by a five-inch line and fed Truck 99-2.
Firefighters mounted an aggressive interior attack for nearly 1½ hours using 15 handlines. With conditions continuing to deteriorate, Buffington ordered crews to evacuate the structures at 4:13 P.M. Defensive operations were initiated with firefighters operating five elevated master streams, five blitz fires, two 2½-inch attack lines and two deluge guns.
Buffington declared the fire under control at 6:34 P.M. Mutual aid units were released at 8:30 P.M. The last York City units left the scene at 8:08 A.M. on July 9.
The Chestnut Street incident was handled as one large incident with three different sectors — east-side operations, west-side operations and rear operations. Approximately 150 firefighters operated at the scene. Twenty engines were dispatched to the scene, with eight used for operations and the remaining 12 for manpower. Twelve additional engines were dispatched for cover assignments. Seven trucks were dispatched to the scene with five used for operations. Four additional trucks were moved for cover assignments. Five rescue companies were dispatched to the scene and one for cover assignment. Two cascade trucks, one salvage truck and one mobile communications vehicle also responded to the scene. Nine hydrants supplied approximately 4.1 million gallons of water to extinguish the fire. Three firefighters suffered minor injuries. No civilians were injured. The weather at the time of the fire was clear and hot.