MidTown - January 24, 2003 --- Evans Center and Highland Firefighters were dispatched at 5:39am Friday morning to a reported structure fire at the corner of Old Lake Shore Road and Milsom Parkway. Angola Fire Control Dispatch confirmed a working fire and the glow in the sky could be seen from Evans Center's Erie Road Station as the first units were on their way. The temperature reported at the scene was -8 degrees Fahrenheit.
The flames were already through the roof when Chief Dennis Allen arrived first. He instructed Engine 1 to turn onto Milsom Parkway and pull past the fire before dropping a supply line to the nearest hydrant. Unfortunately, four hydrants on Old Lake Shore Road were found to be inoperable. Engine 1's operator Bruce Green Jr. pulled just past the structure and Firefighter Sean Murphy climbed topside to direct the deluge gun in a blitz attack to the Number 2 side of the structure. There was no chance for an interior attack and a defensive stance was taken to protect the exposures. It was confirmed that the residents were not at home at the time of the fire.
Captain Tiger Schmittendorf started to manually stretch the 4" LDH supply line down Milsom Parkway to the nearest functioning hydrant some 1,000 ft. away. Once the 800 gallon water tank on Engine 1 was emptied onto the fire, Murphy climbed down and went to assist in stretching the supply line down the icy roadway.
Every 100 ft. length of 4" hose weighs approximately 85 lbs. when dry. As the firefighters struggled their way with some 850 lbs. of hose towards the hydrant, a neighbor appeared with his pick-up truck to help. The team tied the strap from the hydrant bag secured around the end of the hose line to the truck's trailer hitch and pulled the hose the rest of the way.
While Murphy and Schmittendorf flushed and connected the hydrant to the supply line, Engine 3 had arrived and was connecting a supply line to Engine 1. With a secured water supply from the hydrant to Engine 1, the blitz attack continued. Highland Engine 1 had arrived and dropped an attack line to the Number 4 side of the home. While additional tank water from Evans Center Engine 2 and Highland Engine 2 was used on the fire, tankers from Brant and Eden brought additional water to the scene to compensate for the frozen hydrants.
Eden's Rapid Intervention Team was on location in the event a firefighter became trapped or injured. The Evans Center Ladies Auxiliary's Squad 10 brought hot and cold beverages to support the firefighters during the long duration event. Once the bulk of the fire was knocked down, Erie County Fire Investigator Detective Vince Pupo and his assistant went to work to determine the cause and origin of the fire. Eventually, units from North Evans and Angola were brought to the scene to relieve the tired and frozen crews and assist in the extensive overhaul operations.
Units were on location well into the morning and didn't go back into service until almost noon. The home was a total loss and required demolition. The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Evans Center was assisted by the Highland, Angola, Brant, Eden, and North Evans Fire Companies, Angola and Hamburg Fire Control Dispatch Centers, Angola Fire Control Fire Radio Coordinator Terry Cooke, Erie County Sheriffs Department, and the Town of Evans Police.
A special thanks goes to the Town of Evans Highway Department which sent pick-up trucks to transport the thousands of feet of frozen hose back to Evans Center's station for thawing, cleaning and re-stocking; and to the neighboring fire companies who helped at the scene and/or assisted Evans Center in getting their equipment back in service at the station.
Evans Center and Angola Firefighters had responded to a smoky dryer fire in a Franklin Avenue residence in the Village of Angola the night before. Evans Center responded to a two-car accident at Rte. 20 & Versailles Plank Road later in the day Friday.
UPDATED 01/29/03: According to a Buffalo News story, Police said the house was the scene of two burglaries within the last six months. The fire remains under investigation by Town of Evans Police and Erie County Sheriffs Detectives.