SCHUYLKILL COUNTY, PA – Around 4 AM on Thursday, September 21, the Schuylkill Haven Fire Department was dispatched to 13 East Liberty Street in their borough for a reported house on fire.
Initial calls reported the rear of the house on fire and was quickly confirmed by police on scene. Chief 63 requested RIT to the scene from Pottsville. The Chief arrived on scene and assumed command.
Crews found a two and a half story duplex with heavy fire on the B side with an exposure only feet away. Tower 63-22 took the address with Engine 63-12 following right behind. Engine 63-12 secured a water supply. Squad 63-69 came in from the opposite direction and also secured a water supply.
A second alarm was transmitted and brought units from Cressona, Landingville, Orwigsburg, Pine Grove and a Rapid Intervention Team from Tamaqua.
Multiple lines were stretched off 63-12 and 63-69 as fire was now licking out the front of the house. The Tower crew began to ladder the building and set the truck up for aerial operations. Pottsville Ladder 51 was directed to the rear of the structure where they too secured a water supply and stretched lines to the fire building. Crews also performed a search of the building and pulled a cat from the building that perished in the fire. 63-22 was flown to the roof and a crew performed vertical ventilation. Tower 63-25 staged behind 63-69.
As second alarm units arrived on scene they were directed to send all available manpower to the front of the building. Interior crews radioed that they had heavy fire on all floors and command acknowledged there was now heavy fire showing from the roof.
Crews entered the other half of the duplex and stretched lines to the upper floors.. Other firefighters checked the “B” side exposure for extension as heavy damage was noted on the exterior. Firefighters began to make excellent progress on all floors and the fire began to darken down. Within 25 minutes of crews arriving on scene, the bulk of the fire was knocked down.
The American Red Cross arrived on the scene to provide assistance to those displaced while firefighters overhauled the building. Crews set up ventilation fans in the doorways and made sure all of the hot spots were extinguished. One firefighter was transported to the hospital with minor injuries.
Crews began to be released after 6 AM and all crews were available by late morning. A Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshal was requested to the scene to help with finding the cause of the blaze.