Thread: Fatal Fire - Athens, PA
03-23-2002, 10:46 PM #1
Fatal Fire - Athens, PA
Athens, PA - The Athens Borough and Athens Township Fire Departments were dispatched to a working structure fire, Box 1-24, at the corner of Fourth Street and Longway Street at 00:01 on March 23, 2002. Bradford County dispatch reported a possibility of entrapment. Upon arrival, Athens Borough PD found a house and garage heavily involved in fire. Athens PD Officer Chris Hutchinson, along with FF Vincent Whyte of the Athens Boro FD, attempted entry into the structure before apparatus arrived. They were faced with extreme heat and smoke from all parts of the structure and could not make it past the front door. Athens Borough Engine 2 was one of the first apparatus to arrive on scene. FF Bill Blauvelt and FF Skip Roupp pulled a 2 ½ inch attack line and worked towards the structure. As the initial attack line was stretched, the main power line to the house burned through and landed on top of them both. Both FF's were able to crawl away from the live arcing wire. FF Blauvelt was treated at the scene by Greater Valley EMS for possible electrocution. FF Roupp was not injured. (Blauvelt later returned to duty at the scene after being cleared medically.)
Athens Borough 1st Asst. Fire Chief Paul Gilbert was one of the first arriving officers on scene. He issued a second alarm bringing Sayre Borough FD in to the scene with one engine and man power to assist Athens Borough and Athens Township. Athens Borough Fire Chief Mike Barry arrived shortly there after and assumed command. A defensive attack was set up due to collapse of the structure early on. The fire was through the roof within a short period of time. It took about 45 minutes to bring the fire under control and then a search of the structure from the exterior was done to determine the location of the lone tenant of the house. An elderly woman was found in the second floor front of the structure near a window. Bradford County Coroner was called and she was pronounced dead at the scene. Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshals were also called to the scene. Investigation into the cause of the fire continues. Early investigation was hampered because of the instability of the structure. Athens Borough and Athens Township remained on scene until around 05:45. Sayre Borough FD was on cover-up until 04:00. Also assisting at the scene was the Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross and the Valley Salvation Army.
This is the second fatal fire to hit the Valley area of Bradford County in a little over a month. The previous incident was in Sayre Borough on February 20th in which four children and their father died in a structure fire on the East side of Sayre. Athens Borough and Athens Township FD's were also called to the Sayre fire under the automatic mutual-aid box alarm system.Robert Repasky, Chief
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