On Saturday, Nov. 5, 2008, a multiple-alarm fire destroyed nearly half of the Comfort Inn and Suites in the Town of Plattsburgh, NY. At the time of the fire, the building was occupied by approximately 120 people. The two-story building was built in 1988 of ordinary construction with a lightweight...
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Interior crews operated five handlines in the lobby, pool and second-floor guest rooms for approximately 15 minutes. Fire conditions continued to deteriorate and at 12:45 P.M. the lobby roof collapsed. Second Assistant Chief Steve Fuller ordered all interior crews out of the building. Crews were alerted to evacuate by radio communications and the sounding of apparatus air horns.
Burnell assumed the position of incident commander and assigned the following individuals to positions: Fuller to interior operations in the second-floor guest rooms; Third Assistant Chief Roger Seymour to interior operations in the first-floor lobby and pool area; and City of Plattsburgh Chief Paul Williams to fireground operations at the rear of the building. Additional support personnel from Clinton County Emergency Services also assisted with incident management. County Coordinator Eric Day responded to the county command center to assist with operations; Battalion Deputy Chris Trombley was assigned logistics; Battalion Deputy Greg Timmons was assigned to fireground operations; Battalion Deputy Mike Cahoon was assigned to water supply; and Battalion Deputy Storm Treanor was assigned as EMS coordinator. He assisted the American Red Cross in working with displaced hotel guests.
Engine 351 placed its pre-piped deck gun into operation and Tower 359 put its aerial master stream to work in an effort to keep the fire spreading past the firewall at the rear of the restaurant. Engine 352 also placed its pre-piped three-inch deck gun into operation, and City of Plattsburgh Tower 289 put its elevated master streams into operation. This tower was supplied by a 1,000-foot, four-inch line laid by Beekmantown Engine 128, which hooked onto a hydrant and pumped the supply line. Cumberland Head Engine 181 placed a 300-foot, 2½-inch blitz fire attack line into operation in the courtyard area. Engine 181 was supplied with a 500-foot, four-inch line laid by West Chazy Engine 331. Numerous 2½-inch and 1¾-inch handlines were also in operation to control the fire.
At 12:45 P.M., Burnell requested a fifth alarm that brought to the scene Dannemora Fire Department Engine 191, a 1,250-gpm pumper; Keeseville Fire Department Engine 231, a 1,500-gpm pumper; Peru Fire Department Engine 273, a 1,500-gpm pumper; Saranac Fire Department Engine 311, a 1,500-gpm pumper; and West Chazy Fire Department Engine 331, a 1,250-gpm pumper. These units were staged and their manpower was assigned to fire attack and search operation.
A sixth alarm was requested by Burnell at 12:57. Keeseville Tower 239, a 75-foot aerial tower responded and was positioned in front of the restaurant and bar area, where its elevated master streams were put into operation. This tower was fed by a 1,600-foot, five-inch line laid by Keeseville Engine 231, which hooked onto a hydrant and pumped the supply line.
District 3 Fire Chief William Fuller arrived on scene at 1 P.M. After conferring with the incident commander, Fuller assumed the role of interior operations. Five minutes later, Burnell called for a seventh alarm, bringing Chazy Fire Department Engine 152, a 1,500-gpm pumper, and Cadyville Fire Department Engine 135, a 1,250-gpm pumper, to the scene. Chazy Engine 152 laid 1,600 feet of four-inch line and supplied City of Plattsburgh Engine 282 with a second water source. Cadyville Engine 135 was staged and its crew was assigned to fire attack. At 2:01, Burnell requested an eighth alarm. Champlain Fire Department Engine 141, a 1,500-gpm pumper, and Heavy Rescue 147 responded. Engine 141 was staged and Rescue 147 was used for lighting later in the incident.
Seven additional alarms were requested between 2 and 3:40 P.M. to backfill stations for units that were operating at the scene. Departments that responded included Altona, Ellenburg Depot, Willsboro, Jay and Rouses Point, NY, and the Hemmingford and Lacolle fire departments from Quebec, Canada. At 2 P.M., command decided that a supplemental water supply should be on standby in case a problem arose with either of the two municipal water systems from which engines were operating. Five tankers were staged at District 3's Hammond Lane Fire Station, a mile from the scene. Altona's 2,500-gallon Tanker 103, Churbusco's 5,000-gallon Tanker 166, Lyon Mountain's 1,800-gallon Tanker 242, Mooer's 5,000-gallon Tanker 258 and West Chazy's 2,500-gallon Tanker 336 responded. No water supply problems were encountered and the tankers were not used.