SCHUYLKILL COUNTY, PA – After 2:30AM on Monday, July 30, the Mahanoy City Fire Department was dispatched with Altamont RIT and Frackville Ladder 4320 to the area of North Main and East Raildroad Streets for the reported house fire.
Chief 455 (Macleary) went responding and was advised the caller stated there was fire on the roof of a house behind the M&T Bank. Lieutenant 456 (Bowman) quickly radioed in that he could see the fire from the Citizens Station, which is over three blocks away, and it the incident was declared a worker.
Ladder 457 (Hookies), Engine 454 (Citizens) and Tower 456 (Citizens) arrived on scene with Engine 451 (Humane) to find find blowing from a row of abandoned rowhomes on North Main Street. Fire could be seen from multiple windows and the entire roof. Crews were already aware that these houses weren’t structurally sound as they had been abandoned and collapsing for years. With the amount of fire and limited structural integrity, the fire was immediately declared a defensive battle.
Ladder 457 proceeded past the fire to turn around and face South. Tower 456 nosed in against the ladder and both pieces set up for elevated master stream operations. Engine 454 grabbed a plug at Main and Centre and position behind the tower. Engine 451 (Humane) and Tanker 461 (Good American) positioned on both sides of 454. Engine 465 (West End) positioned to the rear of 454. 454 used the front bumper deluge gun to begin to knock the fire while other firefighters stretched multiple heavy lines to control the blaze. Ladder 43-20 arrived and staged on Main Street behind the engines and sent their manpower to the front. Altamont arrived and was designated to be RIT.
With the large fire load, multiple additional resources were requested to the scene. The second alarm brought in crews from Pottsville, Hazle Township, McAdoo, Shenandoah, Delano, Ryan Township and Tamaqua.
Shenandoah Ladder 745 (Hookies Tiller) was directed into the alley on the north side of the row to protect the exposures with their master stream. The tiller had little room to spare in maneuvering as is had only a few inches of clearance on each side. Crews had to be creative with the supply line due to the tight alley which ended up going right over a pick-up truck.
Delano Engine 6-10 was brought down through Mahanoy Township and secured a water supply North of the fire. Shenandoah Engine 742 (Columbia) also traveled through the township and secured a water supply North of the fire. Ladder 49-22 (McAdoo) was positioned to the North as well and set their aerial up for an additional master stream. Hazle Township Engine 141-2 was assigned to be an additional Rapid Intervention Team. The Pottsville apparatus was staged and crews sent into the scene.
Heavy machinery was brought in to begin to move the large pieces of debris and search for additional hot spots.
Personnel realized there would be a large amount of overhaul needed to be completed due to the massive nature of the buildings. Firefighters remained on the scene until the evening hours on Monday making sure the fire was completely out.
Firefighters were assisted on scene by the American Red Cross as well as EMS personnel from Mahanoy City, Shenandoah and Ryan Township.