On July 4, 2003 at 8:55 PM, the Woolwich Fire Company was dispatched to 115 Railroad Avenue for a dwelling fire. Crews responding to the firehouse, five blocks away, reported a heavy column in the air. Captain Valickha immediately requested a second alarm.
Upon arrival, crews encountered a 3 1/2 Victorian style duplex with the rear second floor bedroom of the right hand dwelling well involved. Immediately a five inch supply line was dropped from the corner hydrant to Ladder 2516.
Due to the summer heat and lack of manpower on a holiday, Assistant Chief Barber had two cover companies moved up to the fire and recovered the station.
Crews advancing inside had found that the fire had already gotten into the walls of this 3-1/2 story balloon construction dwelling. At 9:52 PM, an evacuation order was given due to possible collapse of the bedroom floor.
At 9:53 PM Chief Shew and Deputy Slusar arrived on location and assumed command and operations. By this time, there was heavy fire on the left hand side third floor. Chief Shew sent a four man crew to the third floor, a second five inch supply line was established for a ladder in the rear and a third ladder was positioned on the left side of the duplex.
Interior crews reported heavy fire, but making progress. At about 10:15 PM crews on the roof had a good vent hole opened with eight feet flames torching out of it. At 10:20 PM another crew was sent to the third floor to replace the first. At about 10:28 PM communications were lost between Command and the interior crew. At about 10:30 PM a FAST Team was sent in. The interior crew had not realized their radio was not working. At 10:36 PM all firefighters were out and accounted for. The fire was reported under control at 12:16 AM.
The Woolwich Fire Company is located in Swedesboro, NJ which is in Gloucester County.