Photo Story: Pa. Crews Challenged to Find Water for Blaze

Fire hydrants at the Levittown complex in Bucks County did not have enough water pressure to keep up with firefighting efforts.


A four-alarm fire swept through an apartment building in Levittown on July 26.

The blaze started in a second-floor apartment on the rear of “B” building shortly after 9 p.m. 

When firefighters first arrived, they found heavy flames in the second-floor roof. Within 10 minutes firefighters were calling for a second alarm and firefighters were quickly pulled off the roof of the building as the fire raged out of control.

Once the flames reached the attic space it quickly overcame the existing fire breaks of the 43-year-old complex. The fire walls in the attic space also were not continuous, Once the fire spread throughout the attic space it blew through the roof and down into the apartments.

Finding enough water to fight the blaze was a huge challenge. The six fire hydrants available in the complex did not supply enough water for a fire the size of this one, which at one point jumped from one section of the building to another.

Part of Veterans Highway and Durham Road were closed to through traffic around the complex until early Saturday morning. New Falls Road was also closed so firefighters could drop hoses to hydrants more than a quarter mile away.

During the three hours that the fire burned one person was solely dedicated to finding water supply grids. In addition to bringing in water tankers, firefighters used 40,000 gallons of water from the swimming pool at the complex.

Fire crews cut through a chain link fence enclosing tennis courts to move trucks closer to fires at that end of the building. However, the roof in that area collapsed.

By 10:22 p.m., fire officials were calling for a third alarm.

Shortly before midnight, a fourth alarm was struck after the fire was declared under control to help firefighters deal with the remains.

Units on scene: First alarm: E7 E77 L8 Tw 14 E82 E12 E44 E7 E77 E21 E9 L21 R8 E88 UT88 SQ13 R13. Second alarm: E50 E31 E22 E11 Q51 L31 L10 L10 L65 E31-2 E52-1 E77-1 UT21. Third alarm: L25 TW80 R45 R16 E4 E28-1 R32 SS25 SS6. Fourth Alarm: L45 R73 E6 E33 E37 R98 L9035

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