20:57 hrs / 766 Schuylkill Avenue / Box 0704 / C Platoon
The box was transmitted for multiple calls reporting a fire at the address noted. Additional calls reported individuals trapped both in the home and on the roof with the possibility of gunfire, which proved to be unfounded. Engine 7 arrived with heavy fire from the first floor of a 3-story, middle-of-the-row dwelling with fire running the porches of the similar attached row homes. Car 4 (J. Stoudt, Jr.) arrived with one home fully involved with exposures issues and reports of entrapment. Car 4 established command and requested the 2nd alarm.
Crews advanced handlines into the home and via the interior stairwell to both knock-down the bulk of the fire and to facilitate searches. In addition to the fire on the first floor, fire was found to be front to back in the home on both the 2nd and 3rd floors as well. Ladder 1 placed their aerial ladder in service and firefighters from both Ladder 1 and Tower 1 began rooftop ventilation efforts. In addition to Engine 7, Engine 3 established a positive water supply and advanced handlines. Engine 9 positioned in the rear and also stretched a hoseline to the fire building.
Firefighters found the stairs leading to both the 2nd and 3rd floors to be seriously compromised due to fire damage. This situation was mitigated by placing fire department ladders over the stairs in order to bridge the weakened portions. As searches progressed, crews located two civilian victims who, unfortunately, did not survive the fire. The Office of the Fire Marshal was notified and the necessary protocols were implemented.
The fire was placed under control with extensive overhaul at 21:58 hours. 5 handlines were stretched and operated. There was heavy fire damage to all three floors of 766 Schuylkill Avenue with extension to the adjoining homes at 764 and 768 as well. In addition to the two civilian fatalities, there was also one civilian injury. 5 firefighters were injured with 4 of those transported to the hospital for treatment. The Office of the Fire Marshal is investigating. Condolences are offered to the family of the victims.
The second alarm brought the remaining city engine and truck as well as county mutual aid companies. Recalled off-duty city firefighters placed reserve apparatus in service and later back-filled positions for those injured on the fireground.
Engines - 7, 3, 9, 1; Ladders - 1, 3; Rescue 1, Medics 4 and 1; Car 4 (J. Stoudt, Jr); Car 9 (Glore)
Engine 5; Tower 1; Medic 3; Car 7 (Moyer); Car 5 (Banks); Car 1 (W. Stoudt); FM 10 (Searfoss); Car 25 (J. Miller); RFD Canteen 1
West Reading Engine 64; Greenfields Engine 55; Spring Township Rescue 85
Off-Duty City firefighters placed Reserve Apparatus in service while Car 3 (Kemery) covered the City.
* As crews were still wrapping-up from the Schuylkill Avenue fire, Engine 7, Engine 9, Rescue 1, Medic 1, and Car 3 (Kemery) handled a single-vehicle accident with entrapment on Route 12 in the area of the CarTech plant at 00:27 hrs.