On The Job - Pennsylvania: 16 Departments Battle Massive Store Fire

Jay K. Bradish reports on a commercial fire that required the efforts of 200 firefighters to control and caused approximately $15 million in damage.


On March 29, 1999, a fast-moving fire destroyed the K-Mart store in the Route 51 Plaza in Pleasant Hills, PA. About 200 firefighters from 16 departments battled the blaze, which caused an estimated $12 million in damage. PLEASANT HILLS VOLUNTEER FIRE COMPANY Chief...


To access the remainder of this piece of premium content, you must be registered with Firehouse. Already have an account? Login

Register in seconds by connecting with your preferred Social Network.

OR

Complete the registration form.

Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required

Water from firefighting operations mixed with paints, solvents, oil, fertilizers, pool chlorine, soap, shampoo and pharmaceuticals and flowed into Lewis Run, Peters Creek and toward the Monongahela River. The Pennsylvania-American Water Co., whose water intake is at Becks Run, was notified and monitored the water for contamination. The City of Pittsburgh Department of General Services sent a diesel fuel tanker to the scene to supply fuel to the apparatus.

Pleasant Hills crews remained on the scene with one engine and one ladder until 9:30 the following morning. Crews returned several times over the next several days to extinguish hot spots as demolition crews removed the collapsed roof of the building.

An investigation was conducted by local fire officials, the Allegheny County Fire Marshal’s Office, the Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshal’s Division and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms National Response Team. Investigators believe that the fire was accidental and was caused by an electrical malfunction in the fixed wiring in the second-story storeroom.

In addition to the 16 departments that battled the blaze, several other departments were on standby. Over 12 million gallons of water was used to extinguish the fire. Two firefighters suffered minor injuries. Approximately $3,500 worth of firefighting equipment was destroyed. Emergency medical services were coordinated by Baldwin EMS and four other agencies.


Jay K. Bradish, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a former captain in the Bradford Township, PA, Fire Department. He has been a volunteer firefighter and fire photographer for more than 20 years.