Explosion, Fire Rip Through Pennsylvania Carpet Outlet

Jay K. Bradish recalls a fire that tested more than 100 Pennsylvania firefighters.


CITY OF EASTON FIRE DEPARTMENT Chief Frank Chisesi Personnel: 44 career firefighters Apparatus: Three engines, one reserve engine, one tower ladder, one rescue unit, two chiefs' vehicles and two rescue boats Population: 28,000 Area: 4.5 square miles At about 7:30 P.M. on Saturday...


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Tanker 42 a 3,000-gallon tanker from Riegelsville Community Fire Company 1, and Tanker 6231, a 2,100-gallon tanker from Southeastern Fire Company, responded at 8:34. A dump site was established on the east side of the building with two portable tanks. Williams Township Engine 2812 drafted out of the portable tanks and supplied Easton Engine 2014 with two three-inch supply lines. Williams Township Engine 2811 was positioned on the north side of the building. Crews hand-laid a 200 foot 21/2-inch supply line through a wooded area to the fire and wyed it off into two 1 3/4-inch handlines to attack the fire. This pumper was supplied by a 400-foot 2 1/2-inch line and a 400-foot three-inch line from Easton Engine 2014.

At 9:32 P.M., additional mutual aid was requested. Forks Township Fire Company responded with two engines with seven firefighters. Forks Township Engine 2513 established a draft site out of the Lehigh River on Larry Holmes Drive to refill tankers. Tanker operations lasted for two hours. East Lawn Fire Company responded with Tanker 500A, a 2,600-gallon tanker, and three firefighters. Hecktown Fire Company responded with Tanker 5331, a 3,000-gallon tanker, and a crew of four.

Not being able to establish an adequate water supply, firefighters were limited in the size and number of lines that could be used. Six 1 3/4-inch lines, two 2 1/2-inch lines, three deluge guns and one aerial master stream brought the fire under control at 11:17 P.M.

Flavelle began releasing mutual aid departments at 12:30 A.M. Sunday. Easton units started picking up at 2:47. The last Easton units left the scene at 8 A.M. but a fire watch was continued for an additional 24 hours. Over 100 firefighters battled the blaze in 40-degree weather. Several small fires caused by flying embers were reported at homes in the area but none of these fires caused major damage.

Craft Rug Mills was destroyed, with damage estimated at over $2 million. The fire was ruled suspicious by investigators.

Ironically, in March 1969, when Flavelle was a rookie firefighter, a fire was reported at the Craft Rug Mills, then on North 4th Street. The five-story brick building, used for carpet manufacturing, was destroyed. The only difference this time was, instead of being a rookie, Flavelle was in command.


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 22 years.