Just as Tower 45 and Engine 46-1 (Minquas Fire Co. No. 2) were finishing with a ventilation operation at a third floor apartment building fire on W. Lancaster Ave., at 5:00 PM, the Downingtown Fire Dept. was dispatched for a working building fire with smoke showing in the 100 block of Wallace Ave. in the Borough. Also, on the First Alarm were Ladder 41 (Coatesville FD), Station 47 (Lionville FC), Eng 6-1 (West Whiteland FC), Eng 5-5 (East Whiteland FC) and Eng 51-2 (First West Chester FC) as RIT.
Since Ambulance 46-3 was already returning to station from the apartment fire, they arrived on location and reported heavy smoke showing from the store on the end of the two story strip-mall shopping plaza. Battalion Chief 46 quickly arrived on location and assumed Command, then requested a Second Alarm. Eng 46-2 arrived within minutes of the dispatch since they were returning from the W. Lancaster Ave. fire, and they established a water supply from a hydrant across the street and deployed hand lines for the fire attack. Rescue 45 arrived shortly after Eng 46-2 and the crew assisted with the fire attack.
Tower 45 arrived on location and set-up three stores past the store that was on fire. The crew went to the roof, to work on a trench cut for a fire stop. Eng 46-1 followed Tower 45 and deployed hand lines to assist Eng 46-2 with fire attack. Ladder 41 promptly placed its aerial ladder to the roof at the rear north-west corner of the building. Eng 5-5 laid a 5” supply line from the north side of the fire on Wallace Ave. With the fire already moving fast through the common attic space in the plaza, the crew on the roof was removed before the trench cut could be completed. Tower 47 was placed on the front north-east corner of the building, while the Eng 47-2 crew assisted the Eng 5-5 crew with fire attack. Eng 6-1 laid a 5” supply line on Wallace Ave., from the south, to Eng 46-1.
The Second Alarm consisted of Station 38 (Thorndale FC), Eng 6-2 and Rescue 6, Air 52 (Goodwill Fire Co. No. 2), Ladder 53 (Fame Fire Co. No.3) and Eng 56 (Goshen FC) as the second RIT plus Amb/Medic 187 (Uwchlan Ambulance Assoc.). Ladder 53 placed its ladder pipe in operation at the southeast corner of the building. And, all of the crews of the Second Alarm were assigned defensive fire attack functions.
Due to most of the fire hydrants in the area of the fire building already being used, a Tanker Task Force was requested to help supplement the fire hydrant system. The Tanker Task Force consisted of Tanker 39, Eng’s 39-1 (West Bradford FC), Tanker 52 (Goodwill Fire Co. No. 2), Eng 49-5 (East Brandywine FC) and Eng 3-5 (Paoli FC). A second Tanker Task Force was added, consisting of Eng 39-2 (West Bradford FC), Tankers 61-1 and 61-2 (Kimberton FC), Eng 63-5 (Liberty of Spring City), Eng 33-5 (Honey Brook FC) and Tanker 25 (Longwood FC). Then, the Third Alarm was struck for relief man power to assist with the extensive overhaul operations. They were Eng 8-1 (Keystone Valley FD), Eng 61 (Kimberton FC) and Eng 73-1 (Ludwigs Corner FC).
The last DFD units returned to station at 3:00 AM on May 13, 2015 after ten hours of operation, at the scene. The DFD would like to thank the area Fire Police units and volunteers for the support at the fire scene, at the multiple fire hydrant locations and the multiple tanker fill sites that were used.
We would like to thank the countless citizens, who were not affiliated any fire company that pitched-in to help move fire hoses to the side of Wallace Ave. so that additional fire trucks could get to scene. And, those citizens who donated bottles of water and gave them to the firefighters, as well. In addition we would like to thank Margo’s Ice Cream Parlor, Lione’s Pizza, Cocco’s Pizza, Station Taproom, Victory Brewing Co., PJ Whelihan’s, Wawa and Wegman’s Food Market for their donations of food and water for all of the Firefighters, EMS, Fire Police and Police that were at the scene. This truly shows that we do live in the “Good Neighbor Community”. Thanks again, to everybody who volunteered their time and service during this time of need.
Photos are courtesy of IrishEyez Photography, Dave Smiley Jr and Ed Dugan.