SCHUYLKILL COUNTY, Pa. – Just before 1 AM on Friday, January 5, Schuylkill County 9-1-1 dispatched the first alarm assignment to the 500 Block of West Bacon Street in Palo Alto for a reported house fire. The first alarm included Palo Alto, Port Carbon, Pottsville Stations 30 & 60 and St. Clair for the tower ladder.
Port Carbon Engine 59-10 and 59-11 responded immediately after dispatch as they had just returned from a fire alarm in their first due. Crews were advised that Pottsville police had a visual on the fire from the city and confirmed a working fire.
Engine 59-11 dropped supply line on the way in and arrived to find a well-involved fire in a two and a half story single family dwelling at 634 West Bacon Street. Engine 59-10 came in from the West Side of Bacon Street and was directed to leave room for the aerial.
Chief 59 directed the first-in engine to hit the fire with their deck gun. Multiple lines were stretched off 59-11 and Engine 32 came in behind 59-10 and stretched additional lines.
Chief 610 arrived on scene and assumed command. The chief requested a rapid intervention team from Schuylkill Haven be dispatched.
When crews arrived, the bulk of the fire was to the rear of the structure. As the fire was knocked back with the deck gun, firefighters made an attempt to enter the structure and attack the fire but after a few minutes conditions were too fierce and personnel were evacuated from the building.
With lack of water from the West side of the fire, tankers were dispatched to help with the operation. Tankers from Schuylkill Haven, Cressona, Landingville, Mount Carbon and Llewellyn were dispatched to the scene. Pottsville Chiefs 2 & 5 were in charge of water supply. Engine 702 was sent to Mady’s Car Wash on Route 61 for a tanker fill site.
Engine 63-12 responded as part of the RIT assignment and was then directed to draft from portable ponds after the crew set up RIT in front of the building. Once tankers began to drop their water, the deck gun from Engine 32 and an elevated master stream on Tower 701 were charged and worked to knock down all visible fire throughout the building.
A step gun was used off 59-11 on the “B” side while additional lines from 59-11 and Engine 32 worked the “C” and “D” sides.
The bulk of the fire was darkened down around 2 AM and crews continued to pour water onto the building with their master streams.
Throughout the incident, temperatures on scene hovered around 8 degrees. Several community members arrived on the scene bringing hot coffee for first responders to keep warm. One person on scene told Fire & Film he used to own the building before selling it around one year ago and it had been vacant since.
Chief 610 placed the fire under control around 3:30 AM and the tanker operation was broken down. Crews slowly began to return to service with the final units clearing the scene around 5 AM.
A State Police Fire Marshal was requested to the scene to help investigate the cause of the fire.