Two firefighters suffered minor injuries when they bailed out during an Aug. 14 house fire in Woodbridge.
Woodbridge firefighters were dispatched at 10:14 a.m. to 724 Harrell Ave. for a reported basement fire. Captain Jeff Moran arrived on scene and reported smoke showing from the lower level of a one-story ranch-style home. EMS was requested immediately to the scene for a reported injured occupant.
Engine 1-10 arrived on scene, established a water supply and went in to operation with a handline. The line was stretched through a rear door to the top of the basement stairs where heavy smoke and heat was encountered. The suppression crew attempted to descend down the stairs, but stumbled on the steep steps and then turned around. A "Mayday" was transmitted at approximately 10:18 a.m. after the two firefighters that were at the top of the stairs became disoriented and had one of their masks temporarily dislodged while trying to exit the house.
A second alarm was transmitted along with a request for additional ambulance and paramedic units to the scene for the Mayday. Both firefighters were able to find their way to windows in a first floor bedroom after seeing daylight shining through. Two windows were smashed out and the firefighters exited head first out to safety. One firefighter had to drop to the ground from the window, while the other had a ladder placed outside the window to slide down. The Mayday was resolved within three minutes of the initial transmission. Both firefighters were then attended to by EMS personnel on the scene.
An additional handline was stretched to the rear of the house where the bulk of the fire was extinguished through exterior basement windows. Once the fire was darkened, crews gained access to the basement through the garage to extinguish remaining hot spots and conduct overhaul. The fire was declared under control within 20 minutes.
One of the occupants was transported to the hospital to be evaluated for precaution, while the two injured firefighters were transported to JFK Medical Center in Edison, where they were treated and released.
The home sustained heavy fire damage in the basement along with heat and smoke damage on the first floor.
The residence was deemed uninhabitable by the Woodbridge Township Building Department. The two occupants are being assisted with finding temporary shelter.
Mutual aid fire departments from Avenel, Colonia, Fords and Hopelawn responded to the scene to assist, while additional Woodbridge Township fire departments and Perth Amboy covered the town during the incident. The Woodbridge Township and Avenel-Colonia First Aid Squads were on scene to provide rehabilitation and medical attention to the two firefighters.
The cause and origin of the fire was investigated by the Woodbridge Fire Prevention Bureau, lead by Lieutenant Keith Repace and determined to be careless smoking in the basement