to police reports, Tracy Truch, 35, of Myrtle Avenue, Lawrence, was
crossing Brunswick Pike toward westbound Darrah Lane after using the
jughandle on the northbound side of Brunswick Pike when her Ford Escort
was struck on its passenger side by a Jeep Cherokee traveling south
on Brunswick Pike. The Cherokees driver, Michael Naklicki, 25,
of East Brunswick drove through a red light, police reported.
force of the impact crumpled the Escorts passenger side inward
and pushed the car up against the curb in front of the Triangle Creative
Center art store. The Cherokee, meanwhile, came to rest facing north
in the middle of the southbound side of Brunswick Pike. Truch and her
passenger, her 13-year-old son, Brian Greer, were trapped in the wreckage
of the Escort.
6:16 p.m., Lawrence Control dispatched Slackwood Fire Co., along with
the rescue units from Lawrence Road Fire Co. and Lawrence First Aid
Squad. Rescue 22 signed on radio at 6:17 p.m. with a crew consisting
of Rescue Capt. Chris Longo, Capt. Patrick Kent, Capt. Gary Wasko, Ff.
Charles Commini, Ff. Edward Kitchen, Ff. Tim Kasony Jr., Ff. Chris Pangaldi,
and Ff. Larry Forker. Meanwhile, Engine 21-1 signed on radio at 6:18
p.m., followed at 6:22 p.m. by Engine 21.
6:17 p.m. Lawrence First Aid Squad Chief Michael Peterson (who is also
a Lawrence Road firefighter) arrived on scene, along with other EMS
personnel. At that time, the 13-year-old boy was unconscious and unresponsive.
Peterson radioed Rescue 22s crew and advised them that when they
arrived they were to go in service with their Holmatro tools to extricate
the injured boy as quickly as possible. Peterson also advised Engine
21-1s crew that they would need to stretch a precautionary 1.75-inch
handline as soon as they arrived.
22 reached the scene at 6:21 p.m., followed one minute later by Engine
21-1. Rescue 129 arrived at 6:23 p.m., and Engine 21 arrived at 6:24
p.m. Rescue 22s crew immediately stabilized the Escort, then used
their O-Cutter to cut the passenger side B post. The Combination tool
was then used to pop open the passenger side door. Access was made to
the injured boy by 6:26 p.m., and he was removed from the vehicle by
6:31 p.m. Meanwhile, Slackwood firefighters assisted in the rapid removal
of the boys injured mother from the other side of the Escort.
Truch was taken by ambulance to the Capital Health System at Fuld hospital in Trenton, where she was admitted in critical condition. Her son was also taken to the Fuld hospital in critical condition, but then transferred to Cooper Hospital-University Medical Center in Camden. (Both mother and child later recovered from their injuries.) Naklicki, who suffered only minor injuries, was later charged with failure to observe a traffic signal. Rescue 22 remained on scene until 7:13 p.m., using its telescopic light tower to assist police investigators. Rescue 22 was back in quarters by 7:20 p.m.
10:20 a.m., Lawrence Control dispatched the Lawrenceville and Lawrence
Road fire companies and Lawrence First Aid Squad to the accident. Rescue
22, commanded by Rescue Capt. Chris Longo and driven by Ff. James Yates,
responded at 10:23 a.m. with a crew that included Capt. Gary Wasko,
Ff. Edward Kitchen, Ff. Tim Kasony Jr., Ff. Michael Byrd and Ff. Michael
Ratcliffe. At 10:24 a.m., Chief John Fleming arrived on location and
confirmed that there was one person trapped.
22 arrived just one minute later at 10:25 a.m. and its crew immediately
went in service with their Holmatro tools. Deputy Chief Richard Farletta
arrived a short time later to help coordinate operations. Engine 23,
which signed on radio at 10:25 a.m., arrived at 10:27 a.m. Its crew
stretched a booster line, then secured the wrecked cars battery
cable. Utility 23 arrived at 10:29 a.m. with additional manpower.
22s crew stabilized Paks car, and then removed the driver
side door. EMS personnel then requested that the dashboard be rolled
so Paks feet could be untangled. A ram was utilized to move the
dashboard forward off the victim. However, because of her large size
and position in the vehicle, Pak still could not be moved, and it became
necessary to cut away part of the cars floorboard and to reposition
the ram. Ff./EMT Andrew Fosina, who arrived on the scene in his personal
vehicle, climbed into the wrecked car from the passenger side to assist
with patient care during the extrication.
The rescue was still ongoing when Slackwood Ff. Richard Johnson, who works for PSE&G, pointed out that the live electrical wires atop the damaged utility pole were in danger of falling. At that time, because of the hazard posed by the overhead wires, EMS personnel decided to pull Pak from the car as carefully, but as quickly, as possible. Pak, who suffered multiple fractures in her legs, was freed from the vehicle by 10:51 a.m. She was taken to the Capital Health System at Fuld hospital, where a trauma alert was called and she was admitted in stable condition. After the victim was removed, apparatus was repositioned away from the damaged pole and live electrical wires. Rescue 22 returned to quarters by 10:58 a.m.
1:48 a.m., Hopewell Chief Joseph Toth II (a former Lawrence Road volunteer)
arrived and found heavy smoke pouring from the house and flames visible
through a sliding glass door leading to the living room. Engine 52,
which signed on radio at 1:45 a.m., arrived at 1:52 a.m., followed two
minutes later by Tanker 52. Rescue 52 and Engine 51 both reached the
scene at 1:59 a.m., and Tower Ladder 51 and Tanker 51 both arrived two
minutes after that. Telesquirt 53 arrived at 2:12 a.m., and Tanker 53
arrived at 2:15 a.m.
1:57 a.m., Lawrence Roads Rescue 22 was dispatched for cascade
duties. While Rescue 22 was en route, Hopewell firefighters stretched
several handlines into the building, and Penningtons ladder tower
was raised to vent the roof. A portable pond was set up on Marshalls
Corner-Woodsville Road at the mouth of the homes long driveway
and water was fed to Engine 52 through a supply line. A tanker shuttle
was established and Engine 32-1 from the Pennington Road Fire Co. was
dispatched to Hiohela Lake to refill the tankers. The fire was declared
under control at 2:18 a.m.
22 arrived on location at 2:20 a.m. with a crew that included Assistant
Chief Wayne Hannon and Firefighters Charles Commini, Walter Hlewicki,
Michael Byrd and Michael Ratcliffe. Rescue 22 was positioned near the
portable pond and its light tower raised to help illuminate the scene.
Commini then prepared Rescue 22s cascade system. Meanwhile, Hannon
and the rest of the crew proceeded to the front of the fire building
and received orders from Toth to set up portable lights inside. After
completing that task, they carried several empty SCBA bottles back to
Commini. Commini used Rescue 22s cascade system to fill approximately
15 air bottles. Hannon, Hlewicki, Byrd and Ratcliffe then reported back
to the fire building, where they helped overhaul by pulling down the
ceiling in the living room and opening the wall around a fireplace.
Investigators determined that the blaze was caused, in part, by the defective construction of the fireplaces chimney. Heat from the metal chimney apparently radiated to the nearby wall and eventually ignited the wood there. Fortunately, residents was able to escape after waking to find the house rapidly filling with smoke. The fire heavily damaged the living room and bedroom areas, and caused extensive smoke damage to the rest of the home. There were no injuries reported. A light snow fell as firefighters performed the overhaul work. Rescue 22 was released from the scene at 4:14 a.m. and was back at Station 22 by 4:40 a.m.
that collision, Archilas car hit the rear of a car driven by Nicole
Hillman, 27, of Franklin Street, Trenton, according to police. Archilas
car continued south along Route 1 for about 1,200 feet, then slammed
into the roads concrete divider. The car bounced off the divider,
crossed both left and right lanes, and hit a patch of ice along the
shoulder. The ice served as a ramp and sent Archilas car airborne.
The vehicle flew as much as 120 feet, overturned and landed on its roof
on the ice-covered surface of a branch of the Shipetaukin Creek located
next to the Acura car dealership, just north of Franklin Corner Road.
Archila was trapped in the flipped vehicle.
6:02 p.m. Lawrence Control dispatched Station 23, Squad 129 and Rescue
129 for an overturned vehicle in the water with entrapment. At 6:07
p.m. Rescue 22 was special-called to assist. An ambulance from West
Windsor Emergency Services, which happened to be in the area at the
time, also responded. A request was also made for the water rescue task
force from the Trenton Fire Department to respond. (The victim was ultimately
freed without the aid of city firefighters, where were recalled shortly
after they arrived.) Rescue 22 arrived on location at 6:16 p.m. Rescue
22s light tower was quickly raised to illuminate the scene and
its stokes basket was brought over to assist in the removal of the victim
from the creek.
firefighters used high-lift jacks to raise the vehicle enough so that
Archila, who amazingly was not seriously hurt, could crawl out on his
own. However, because the extent of Archilas injuries was unknown
at that point, rescuers placed a collar around his neck and secured
him to a backboard. He was then placed in Rescue 22s stokes basket.
Chief John Fleming, Assistant Chief Wayne Hannon, Ff. Charles Commini,
Ff. Michael Byrd and Ff. Edward Kitchen then helped Lawrenceville firefighters
haul the stokes basket up the snow-covered bank of creek.
Archila was taken by ambulance to the Capital Health System at Fuld hospital, where he was found to have only a cut to his left shin and a bruised sternum. Rescue 22 was released from the scene at 6:32 p.m. Then, at 6:35 p.m., Slackwood and Lawrence Road fire companies were dispatched to a possible structure fire at 5 Van Buren Place. Rescue 22 immediately responded from the street and arrived just behind Engine 21-1 to find that a small fire in a toaster oven had already been extinguished. Rescue 22 was held on scene for a brief period, and then returned to quarters by 6:47 p.m.
5:59 p.m., Pennington Chief Doug Pinelli spotted flames in the air while
responding along Pennington-Harbourton Road. He immediately radioed
Mercer County Central and requested the second alarm. Dispatched at
6 p.m., the second alarm included: Rescue 22 from Lawrence Road Fire
Co., Ladder Tower 23 from Lawrenceville Fire Co., Engine 33-1 from West
Trenton Fire Co., Rescue 32 from Pennington Road Fire Co., and Tanker
71 from Upper Makefield Fire Co. of Bucks County, Pa. Rescue 22 responded
at 6:03 p.m. with a crew that included Assistant Chief Wayne Hannon,
Rescue Capt. Chris Longo, and Firefighters Charles Commini, Michael
Byrd, Ed Budzinski, Joseph Dlabik Sr. and Shaun Dlabik.
firefighters reached the scene to find flames burning through part of
the roof of the storage building, which measured approximately 80-feet
by 30-feet. First-alarm firefighters had to lay more than 3,000 feet
of large diameter supply hose up the farms narrow driveway to
the fire building. Engines were positioned in the middle of the hose
lay and portable ponds were erected at the foot of the driveway. Tankers
were used to shuttle water from a hydrant on Bromel Place in Pennington.
22 arrived on the scene at 6:20 p.m. While Firefighters Joseph Dlabik
Sr. and Shaun Dlabik remained with Rescue 22, which was temporarily
parked out of the way on Burd Road, the remaining members of the crew
walked up the long driveway and reported to Chief 51 at the rear of
the fire building. At 6:25 p.m. the third alarm was transmitted for
additional tankers. Responding on that alarm were Tanker 47-71 from
Sergeantsville Fire Co. of Hunterdon County; and tankers from Griggstown
(Station 35), Little Rocky Hill (Station 41), Montgomery No. 1 (Station
45), and Neshanic (Station 48) fire companies from Somerset County.
initially mounted an aggressive interior attack. But then Pennington
Assistant Chief Dave Pinelli, who was in Ladder Tower 51s bucket,
reported that the roof of the fire building appeared to be buckling.
At that time, Chief Doug Pinelli ordered all firefighters out of the
building and the evacuation tones were sounded. A section of the roof
came crashing down a few minutes later. Elevated master streams were
then placed in service from Ladder Tower 51 and Telesquirt 53, along
with several handlines on the ground. Rescue 22s crew helped man
a 2.5-inch handline at the rear of the fire building, where firefighters
worked to protect an underground fuel storage tank located a few feet
from the structure.
the bulk of the fire was knocked down, interior operations resumed and
Rescue 22s crew helped man a 1.75-inch handline. At 7:25 p.m.
the fire was finally declared under control. The Pennington First Aid
Squad and Hopewell Emergency Medical Unit stood by on scene and provided
firefighters with hot coffee and chicken soup. Ladies auxiliary members
and the Signal 22 canteen assisted. There were no injuries reported,
despite the frigid weather and icy conditions. Rescue 22 was later repositioned
on Woosamonsa Road near a small access lane leading to the rear of the
Southwind Farm. Rescue 22 was unable to proceed up the access lane because
it was completely covered with ice. But the apparatus was moved close
enough so that empty SCBA bottles could be ferried from the fire building
and filled from Rescue 22s cascade.
22 arrived on location at 10:59 a.m., followed one minute later by Engine
21-1. Ladder Tower 23 reached the scene at 11:04 a.m. Engine 22s
crew entered the house and used a 2.5-gallon water extinguisher to put
out the fire in the clothes dryer. Engine 21-1s crew then assisted
in removing the dryer from the residence. Engine 22 was released from
Stonicker Drive at 11:24 a.m. and was back in quarters by 11:31 a.m.
while Station 22 members were gathered around the table in the firehouse
break room finishing their lunch, they heard over the scanner Lawrence
police being sent to an accident involving a jackknifed tractor-trailer.
Apparently, the tractor-trailer had been going north on Route 1 when
its driver lost control a short distance north of Whitehead Road. When
the rig jackknifed, the drivers door flew open and the driver,
who was not wearing his seatbelt, was thrown out of the cab and over
the Route 1 guardrail. The man then fell more than 40 feet into the
water of the Delaware & Raritan Canal located below the elevated
section of highway.
accident was in Slackwoods district but Lawrence Control initially
dispatched Squad 129, Rescue 129 and Station 23. Lawrenceville Fire
Co. was immediately recalled and Slackwood firefighters dispatched.
At 12:55 p.m., Rescue 22 was dispatched, as per the townships
rescue protocol. Rescue 22 responded with Driver Robert Santello, Capt.
Martin Burch and Ff. Michael Ratcliffe. Chief John Fleming also responded.
The Trenton Fire Departments marine rescue task force (consisting
of Rescue 1, Ladder 1, Engine 1, Engine 3 and Battalion Chief Richard
Laird) was also dispatched.
12:56 p.m., Lawrence Road Fire Co. was also dispatched to assist Station
23 at a possible heater fire at 70 Lawrenceville-Pennington Road. Engine
22 responded but was recalled after Lawrenceville Chief Bob Brackett
arrived and found there was no fire. Engine 22 was back in quarters
by 1:03 p.m.)
21-1 went directly to the scene of the accident on Route 1. Rescue 22
and Rescue 129, along with the Trenton apparatus, meanwhile responded
to the Delaware & Raritan Canal off of Whitehead Road in the area
of the Ewing Lawrence Sewerage Authority (ELSA) facility. Rescue 1,
Rescue 22 and Rescue 129 all proceeded up the canal towpath to the part
of the canal where the tractor-trailers driver was believed to
have fallen. While Trenton firefighters donned their diving suits, Lawrence
Road volunteers brought up the 14-foot roof ladder and the stokes basket
off Rescue 22. The ladder was placed into the water to provide footing
for the divers as they entered the canal. Meanwhile, other Trenton firefighters
launched one of their boats a short distance away.
divers and the boat crew searched the water in the area below the jackknifed
tractor-trailer, Rescue 22s crew helped search the canal bank
to both the north and south. By that time, the snow had turned into
a light rain. A pike pole and the thermal imaging camera off Rescue
22 were provided to the Trenton firefighters in the boat to aid their
search. Finally, at about 1:49 p.m., Trenton Ff. Ron Ettinger discovered
the mans submerged body.
The body was pulled to the side of the canal, hauled up the bank and placed on Rescue 22s stokes basket. Burch, Ratcliffe and Fleming helped carry the mans body to a waiting Lawrence Township ambulance. The man, Nelson E. Cevallos, 37, of Harrison, N.J., was pronounced dead shortly after arrival at Capital Health System at Fuld hospital in Trenton. Rescue 22 cleared the scene at 2:10 p.m. and was back in quarters by 2:16 p.m.
the crash occurred on the Lawrence-West Windsor border, police in both
townships were notified and ambulances were dispatched from both Lawrence
First Aid Squad and West Windsor Emergency Services. At 4:54 p.m. Lawrence
Control dispatched Lawrenceville Fire Co. and Rescue 22. West Windsor
police, meanwhile, dispatched Princeton Junction Fire Co. Rescue 22
signed on radio at 4:56 p.m. with a crew including Capt. Gary Wasko
and Firefighters Charles Commini, Walter Hlewicki, Michael Ratcliffe
and Shaun Dlabik. Engine 24 (from Lawrencevilles sub-station on
Lawrence Square Boulevard) also signed on radio at 4:56 p.m. and arrived
three minutes later to find Goldensohn trapped in her seat, with the
front of Diazs pickup truck resting against her door. Diaz and
Wade were not trapped and were easily removed from their seats.
John Fleming, who responded in his chiefs vehicle, arrived at
5 p.m. At 5:03 p.m. Rescue 22 reached the scene and the crew immediately
went in service. Engine 44 arrived on scene at 5:04 p.m., followed a
minute later by Engine 23. While Commini and Dlabik stabilized the Lexus,
Ratcliffe stretched the Holmatro Combination tool to the drivers
side of the car and Hlewicki took the Holmatro O-Cutter to the passengers
side. Under the direction of Fleming and Wasko, the men used the tools
to cut the A, B and C posts on the Lexus. Firefighters then lifted the
roof off the vehicle.
the roof was removed, West Windsor Ff./EMT Steve Schnaudt and paramedics
were able to climb into the wrecked vehicle to better treat the injured
woman. Lawrenceville and Princeton Junction firefighters then pushed
the pickup truck away from the Lexus, and Rescue 22s crew moved
in with their Holmatro tools to pop open the crushed drivers door.
But because the door was so badly damaged, it became necessary to first
cut off the rear door on that side of the vehicle. Once the rear door
was removed firefighters were able to pry open the drivers door
enough to allow EMS personnel to slide in a backboard and free Goldensohn.
The extrication was officially completed at 5:25 p.m. Goldensohn, Wade
and Diaz were all transported to the Capital Health System at Fuld in
Trenton. Both Goldensohn and Diaz were admitted to the hospital in fair
condition, while Wade was treated and released.
22 was released from the accident scene at 5:31 p.m. At 5:43 p.m., as
they were proceeding up Texas Avenue on their way back to the firehouse,
Rescue 22s crew spotted thick black smoke and flames at the rear
of the Acme supermarket at the Lawrence Shopping Center. Commini, who
was driving, turned Rescue 22 around and headed toward the shopping
center. Wasko, meanwhile, radioed Mercer County Central Communications
Center and advised them of the fire and ordered them to dispatch Slackwood
22 arrived seconds later to find dozens of green plastic shopping carts
ablaze. The carts, being stored against the rear wall of the Acme, were
burning fiercely and shot flames against the wall and over the roof.
As Wasko and Dlabik tried to move unburned carts away from the flames,
Commini engaged the pump on Rescue 22 and Ratcliffe and Hlewicki moved
in to attack the fire with the 1.75-inch trash line off the front pumper
of the apparatus.
21-1, which signed on radio seconds after being dispatched, reached
the scene at 5:47 p.m. and the Slackwood firefighters stretched their
own 1.75-inch handline to assist with the attack. Engine 21 arrived
on location at 5:50 p.m. with additional manpower. Firefighters, who
wore their SCBAs because of the toxic smoke being thrown off by the
burning plastic, brought the fire under control in less than 10 minutes.
Dozens of shopping carts were destroyed and reduced to piles of melted
plastic by the blaze, which later was determined to have been of incendiary
origin. Acme officials later estimated the total damage at $9,600. Rescue
22 was released from the scene at 6:05 p.m. and was back in quarters
by 6:14 p.m.
that night, Hamilton police spotted a Toyota Camry that had been stolen
and attempted to stop the vehicle. The car, driven by a 16-year-old
boy, with a 14-year-old male passenger, refused to stop and led police
on a wild chase. As the stolen auto fled down Whitehead Road into Lawrence
Township, the driver lost control and the vehicle fishtailed. The passengers
side of the car struck a utility police near the Ewing-Lawrence Sewerage
Authority (ELSA) facility. Lawrence First Aid Squad was immediately
dispatched to the crash. At 9:32 p.m. Slackwood Fire Co. was also dispatched
to the accident for wash-down purposes. Slackwood Chief Ken Johnson
arrived on scene at 9:33 p.m., followed one minute later by Engine 21-1,
to find that the passenger was trapped in the wreckage.
9:36 p.m., Mercer County Central dispatched both Rescue 22 and Rescue
129. Rescue 22 signed on radio at 9:37 p.m. with a crew that included
Capt. Patrick Kent, and Firefighters Jeff Sawasky, Edward Kitchen, Joseph
Dlabik Jr., Michael Ratcliffe, Larry Forker, and Karen Palise. Rescue
22 arrived on location at 9:41 p.m., closely followed by Rescue 129.
While Rescue 22s crew went in service with their Holmatro tools,
the crew off Rescue 129 stretched their Hurst tools. Meanwhile, Slackwood
firefighters stood by with a charged handline. Both rescue crews worked
together and cut off the passengers side door. Next, they removed
the windshield, cut the A and B posts, and folded back the roof.
Once the roof was out of the way, EMS personnel were able to free the 14-year-old passenger and place him on a backboard about 9:58 p.m. However, because the boy had a serious leg fracture, EMS personnel had to place a special air splint on the injured leg before moving him. As a result, it was not until about 10:08 p.m. that the boy was finally on his way to Capital Health System at Fuld. The 16-year-old driver, who was not seriously hurt and was easily removed from the wreckage, was also taken to the Fuld hospital for treatment. Rescue 22 was released from the scene at 10:10 p.m. and was back at Station 22 by 10:15 p.m., ending an extremely busy evening for Lawrence Road firefighters.
at 3:03 p.m., Lawrence Control dispatched Lawrence Road volunteers to
an odor of natural gas at 1501 Lawrence Road. Rescue 22 and Engine 22-1
both responded. At 3:13 p.m., Mercer County Central Communications Center
radioed and asked if Engine 22-1 could be released from 1501 Lawrence
Road to cover Pennington Roads firehouse. Engine 22-1 was promptly
released from the scene of the gas odor and responded into Ewing. (Rescue
22 remained at 1501 Lawrence Road and ultimately determined that the
odor was unfounded.)
22-1 arrived at Station 32 at 3:20 p.m. At 3:30 p.m., Engine 22-1 was
special-called to assist with the brush fire. Engine 22-1 was ordered
to respond down Carlton Avenue to Scotch Road to attack the fire along
the railroad tracks at the rear of Ewing Cemetery. Engine 22-1 drove
through the cemetery and across an open field at the rear to find a
large area of brush burning along the fence separating the cemetery
from the railroad. At that time, no other apparatus was on scene.
Ff. Michael Ratcliffe pumping, Ff. Michael Byrd and Ff. Joseph Dlabik
Jr. went in service with both of Engine 22-1s booster lines. Meanwhile,
Capt. Gary Wasko radioed in a request for assistance. With the PTO pump
engaged, Engine 22-1 was able to drive along the fence line. At one
point, as Engine 22-1 took up a position next to a large area of fire,
the wind shifted and a ball of flames shot toward the apparatus. Wasko
immediately ordered Engine 22-1s deck gun placed in service and
all the water left in the tank (about 250 gallons) was used to knock
down the flames. Tac 14 from Hamilton Fire Co. arrived just as Engine
22-1 emptied its tank.
and Byrd remained with Tac 14, while Ratcliffe and Dlabik left to fill
Engine 22-1. As Engine 22-1 was leaving the cemetery, Slackwoods
Engine 21 arrived to assist. Engine 22-1 refilled its 500 gallon tank
at a hydrant at the corner of Carlton Avenue and Lower Ferry Road and
then headed back. After returning to the cemetery, Engine 22-1 took
up a position to refill Tac 14, which was utilized to access some of
the harder-to-reach areas of the fire. Tac 14 was refilled twice before
Engine 22-1 had to again leave to refill from a hydrant on Scotch Road.
While Ratcliffe and Byrd were away refilling the engine, Wasko assisted Dlabik, who began suffering from heat exhaustion. Squad 139 was immediately called in and Dlabik was checked out and given fluids. After a brief rest inside an air conditioned vehicle, he was released by the ambulance crew. After returning from its second refilling run, Engine 22-1 went back along the fence line behind the cemetery and emptied half its tank on several smoldering hot spots. At 5:35 p.m., with the fire almost completely out, Engine 22-1 was released. After once again having its tank refilled and equipment cleaned, Engine 22 was finally back in service at Station 22 by 6 p.m.
Meanwhile, Ladder Tower 23, which arrived on scene at 10:32 a.m., began ventilation efforts. With heavy smoke still in the residence, Chief 23 special-called an extra engine from Hopewell Borough. Engine 24 arrived at 10:38 a.m., Ladder Tower 51 (which had signed on radio at 10:36 a.m.) arrived at 10:42 a.m. and Engine 51 (which responded at 10:38 a.m.) reached the scene at 10:45 a.m. Ultimately, the fire was extinguished with no extension beyond the dryer and positive pressure fans were used to ventilate the smoke from the home. Both Pennington units and Engine 52 (which signed on radio at 10:42 a.m. but never reached the scene) were recalled by Chief 23 at 10:48 a.m. Engine 24 was recalled at 10:52 a.m. At 10:58 a.m., Ladder Tower 23 and Rescue 22 were recalled. Both units returned to the parade, joining back up with the rest of the township fire apparatus as they were just passing Lawrence Roads firehouse. (While Engine 22 was committed on Shirley Lane, the following volunteers manned Lawrence Roads other apparatus, which participated in the entire parade but remained available in case any other emergencies were reported: Deputy Chief Richard Farletta, Assistant Chief Wayne Hannon, President James Yates, Fire Police Capt. Robert Hazen, Rescue Lt. Andrew Fosina, Ff. Michael Byrd, Ff. Shaun Dlabik, Ff. Larry Forker, FF. Karen Palise, and Ff. Chris Pangaldi.)
22-July 3, 2000
When Lawrence Road firefighters arrived, they were directed to park Rescue 22 at the entrance of the driveway off Carter Road. As a result, Rescue 22s crew had to carry all their equipment up the long driveway to the accident scene. Engine 23s crew began the extrication with their Hurst tool but they ran into problems. Lawrence Road firefighters then assisted with their Holmatro tools. Rescue 22s crew used the Holmatro O-Cutter, powered by the portable Holmatro generator, to cut and remove a passenger seat to allow EMS personnel access to the injured woman. Rescue 22s crew then used the brake pedal cutter to remove the pedals and free Tabacks feet. Taback was finally removed from the car at 3:58 p.m. She was then rushed to the trauma unit at Capital Health System at Fuld hospital in Trenton, where she was treated for a broken femur and other internal injuries. Rescue 22 cleared the scene at 4:14 p.m. and was back in quarters by 4:24 p.m.
11:20 p.m., Lawrence Control dispatched Lawrenceville Fire Co. to 5
Lawrenceville-Pennington Road for a structure fire. Less than 30 seconds
later, Mercer County Central Communications Center dispatched Lawrence
Road Fire Co. to assist. It was raining heavily and portions of Lawrence
Road were slightly flooded at the time. At 11:21 p.m. Lawrenceville
Chief Bob Brackett signed on radio and was advised by Lawrence Control
that the 911 call had come from the Mobile station. Based on that report,
Brackett ordered Mercer County Central to transmit the balance of Box
23-10. As a result, Penningtons Engine 51 and Ladder Tower 51
22, driven by Rescue Lt. Andrew Fosina and commanded by Rescue Capt.
Chris Longo, signed on radio at 11:22 p.m. with a crew of Ff. Michael
Byrd, Ff. Dave Terzian, Ff. Joseph Dlabik Jr. and Ff. Shaun Dlabik.
Rescue 22, meanwhile, responded at 11:23 p.m. with Ff. Joseph Dlabik
Sr. in the drivers seat and Capt. Gary Wasko riding as officer.
The crew included Ff. Charles Commini, Ff. Larry Forker, and Ff. Tim
was issuing from the eaves and roof area of the building when Brackett
arrived at 11:24 p.m. Closely following him was Engine 22, which reached
the scene at 11:25 p.m. and took up a position on Side A. A preconnected
1.75-inch handline was stretched from Engine 22 to the front door of
Michael Angelos Pizza. Byrd forced entry by taking out the glass
door, then he and Longo advanced the handline into the building.
other members of Engine 22s crew meanwhile took the 35-foot extension
ladder off the apparatus and pitched it to the roof on Side A. They
in turn took out a skylight on the roof to ventilate the building. Engine
23, which signed on radio at 11:24 p.m., arrived at 11:26 p.m. and was
directed by Hannon to hook into the hydrant on the north side of Lawrenceville-Pennington
Road near the intersection with Lawrence Road. At that point, Rescue
22 arrived and laid 200 feet of 4-inch supply hose from Engine 23 to
Angelos Pizza. While Dlabik Sr. placed the telescopic light tower
in service to illuminate the fireground, the rest of Rescue 22s
crew proceeded to the fire building to assist with suppression and ventilation
operations. Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Richard Farletta, with his son Junior
Ff. Matthew Farletta, arrived in Car 22-1, while Assistant Chief Wayne
Hannon arrived in Car 22. (Chief John Fleming was away on vacation at
Tower 23, which signed on radio at 11:27 p.m., arrived at 11:29 p.m.
Ladder Tower 23 parked on Lawrenceville-Pennington Road near Engine
23 and sent its manpower up to the fire building. Engine 22-1 signed
on radio at 11:30 p.m. with a crew that included Ff. Ed Budzinski, Ff.
Chris Pangaldi, Ff. Walter Hlewicki, Ff. Karen Palise, and Ff. Ron Taglairino.
and Longo, meanwhile, located the seat of the fire inside the kitchen
area of Michael Angelos Pizza. The fire, which was centered around
a countertop and miscellaneous items stored nearby, was just beginning
to roll up against the ceiling when Byrd opened the nozzle. Ultimately,
the flames were knocked down with less than half of Engine 22s
500 gallon tank. The surrounding ceiling was pulled but no extension
addition to the fire damage sustained to the kitchen, the other areas
of Michael Angelos Pizza sustained major smoke damage. The delicatessen
next door also sustained significant smoke damage. The investigation
into the fire was conducted by Lawrenceville Fire Co., Mercer County
Assistant Fire Marshal John Kubilewicz and Detective Lloyd Mathis of
the Mercer County Prosecutors Office, with assistance from Farletta
and Wasko (who is also a detective with the prosecutors office.)
The investigation concluded that the fire had been accidentally started
by an overloaded electrical power strip that had apparently overheated.
crews from Tower Ladder 51 and Engine 51 (which both arrived shortly
after 11:30 p.m.) were ordered to stand by on Side A, but were recalled
at 11:47 p.m. after it was determined the fire was under control. Also
around 11:47 p.m., Farletta ordered Engine 22-1 to take up and return
to the firehouse to stand by with Pennington Road Engine 32-1, which
had been dispatched by Mercer County Central to cover Station 22. (At
the time, Station 23 was being covered by Hopewell Engine 52.) Engine
22 and Rescue 22, meanwhile, remained on the fireground to assist with
12:15 a.m. on Wednesday, August 2, 2000, Lawrence Control phoned Mercer
County Central and asked them to dispatch Slackwood Fire Co. to investigate
a smoke condition in the code enforcement trailer located behind the
Lawrence Township municipal building at 2207 Lawrence Road. (Apparently,
Lawrence Control had been trying to dispatch the call for more than
15 minutes, but a bolt of lightning had hit the police radio tower and
knocked out the transmitter.)
22 was immediately directed to leave the scene on Lawrenceville-Pennington
Road and respond to the smoke condition. Meanwhile, Engine 22-1 and
Engine 32-1 responded from Station 22. Rescue 22, along with Hannon
in Car 22, arrived at 12:18 a.m. They investigated and found a very
slight odor inside the code enforcement offices. The thermal imaging
camera off Rescue 22 was placed in service to search for the source
of the odor. Meanwhile, Engine 22-1, Engine 32-1, and Engine 21-1 all
the thermal imaging camera discovered that the odor was being emitted
by a faulty transmitter in a code enforcement radio. The problem was
isolated and the assignment was recalled by Hannon at 12:28 a.m. At
that point, with both Rescue 22 and Engine 22-1 available, Engine 32-1
was released from its standby.
than four minutes later, Engine 22-1 was involved in a motor vehicle
accident in front of Station 22. Just prior to reaching the firehouse,
all the red warning lights on Engine 22-1 were activated. At that time,
southbound traffic behind the apparatus stopped completely, while the
only northbound traffic was a single vehicle that was south of Gainsboro
Road far enough away for its driver to see the apparatus and
stop. With the way clear in both directions, Budzinski, who was driving,
pulled Engine 22-1 into the oncoming lane (the northbound lane) and
prepared to back into the firehouse.
that instant, with Engine 22-1 facing south in the northbound lane,
Budzinski realized the car that had been heading north had not stopped
and was going to hit the apparatus. Budzinski shouted a warning to the
rest of Engine 22-1s crew, then quickly engaged the engines
parking brake. At the same time, he let out a continuous blast of the
engines airhorn in the hope of warning the cars driver.
But the warning went unheeded and the car, a brand-new Ford Mustang,
struck Engine 22-1 head-on. Had Budzinski attempted to move the apparatus
to the side, the Mustang undoubtedly would have struck the drivers
side jumpseat where Hlewicki was riding.
force of the collision dented the front bumper of Engine 22-1 and severely
twisted the diamondplate near the front suction. Fortunately, no crew
members were hurt. (In addition to Budzinski and Hlewicki, Palise was
onboard in the front middle, Pangaldi was riding as officer, and Ff.
Edward Kitchen was in the other jumpseat). The Mustang, however, sustained
extensive front end damage. Nevertheless, the driver attempted to back
the vehicle up after the collision and drive away. But the damage was
so severe the vehicle barely moved.
Steven Amiott, who had been in his car stopped in the southbound side
of Lawrence Road waiting for Engine 22-1 to back into the firehouse,
immediately used his radio to report the accident and call for an ambulance.
Rescue 22, which had been only a few minutes behind Engine 22-1, then
arrived and its crew rushed over to check on the firefighters riding
on Engine 22-1 and also on the driver of the Mustang. Likewise, a township
police car, which happened to turn onto Lawrence Road just as the accident
happened, hurried to help.
Mustangs driver, Brain Sassman, 24, of Princeton Pike, Lawrence,
was injured and was initially cared for by firefighters. Lawrence First
Aid Squad personnel then arrived and assumed patient care. Fortunately,
Sassman was not trapped and was easily removed on a backboard and transported
to Capital Health System at Fuld hospital.
The battery cables on the Mustang were cut and a 1.75-inch handline was stretched off Rescue 22 as a precaution. Engine 22 was released from Lawrenceville-Pennington Road at 12:37 a.m. and soon arrived to assist. Township police investigated the crash and took several photographs to document the accident scene. Sassman, who allegedly tried to leave the hospital before the police arrived to talk to him, was reportedly charged with DWI, reckless driving, and failure to yield to an emergency vehicle. Engine 22-1 was taken out of service. Later that morning, the engines pump was tested and no additional problems were found. As a result, the apparatus was placed back in service albeit with a dented front bumper.
actually began at 4:37 p.m. when Station 22 personnel were toned out
to help Lawrenceville Fire Co. check an activated fire alarm at 4 Green
Avenue. Engine 22 responded at 4:40 p.m. and arrived three minutes later,
followed one minute later by Telesquirt 23. Engine 22s crew stood
by in front of the house, while Lawrencevilles members investigated
At 4:48 p.m., Lawrence Control dispatched Lawrence Road Fire Co. to a reported vehicle fire at the intersection of Lawrence Road and Eggerts Crossing Road. Engine 22 was immediately released from Green Avenue and started responding to the vehicle fire. Meanwhile, Rescue 22 signed on radio at 4:49 p.m. with a crew including Capt. Gary Wasko, Rescue Lt. Andrew Fosina, Lt. Steve Amiott and Ff. Edward Kitchen.
22 arrived at 4:51 p.m. to find a pickup truck hauling a horse trailer
stopped on Wayside Lane at the corner with Lawrence Road. A small fire
had broken out in the brakes for the rear passengers side wheels
of the horse trailer. Fortunately, the pickups driver, Joe Morris
of Columbus, N.J., had managed to get the horse he was carrying out
of the burning trailer.
The animal, which was in the process of being shipped from the Southwind Farm in Hopewell to Ohio, was waiting with Morris wife on the lawn of a home on the opposite side of Lawrence Road when firefighters arrived. Rescue 22s crew removed the wheel next to the smoking brakes and used a 2.5-gallon water extinguisher to douse the fire. (Prior to Rescue 22s arrival, Morris tried unsuccessfully to smother the fire by throwing hay on the hot brakes.) Meanwhile, Engine 22 was recalled and returned to Station 22 by 4:57 p.m. With damage to the trailer being confined to a very small area, Morris decided to resume his journey.
on Lawrence Road was stopped by firefighters and police, and the horse
was walked back to Wayside Lane. Morris and his wife, with assistance
from Wasko, then spent 15 minutes trying to coax the frightened animal
back into the trailer. The horse was finally corralled and Rescue 22
was back in station by 5:21 p.m.
was less than a half-hour later when the second vehicle fire was reported.
At 5:46 p.m., Lawrence Road members were dispatched for a working fire
in the engine compartment of a 1989 Ford Thunderbird in front of 181
Eldridge Avenue. Rescue 22 signed on radio at 5:48 p.m., followed less
than 30 seconds later by Engine 22. Both units arrived on location at
5:49 p.m. The owner, Dolores Goss Burkes, told arriving firefighters
that she had parked the car in front of her home and went inside to
unload groceries. When she came back outside, she noticed smoke coming
from the engine compartment. Lawrence Police Patrolman Dave Burns used
a dry chemical extinguisher to knock down some of the fire prior to
the arrival of Rescue 22. Rescue 22s crew then reached the scene
and went in service with the 1.75-inch trash line. The remaining flames
were quickly extinguished, and damage was held to the engine compartment.
A preliminary investigation indicated the blaze was caused by a malfunction
of an electrical sensor. Lawrence Road crews were back in quarters by
At 8:47 p.m., Station 22 personnel were dispatched to the area of 75 Altamawr Avenue for the third reported vehicle fire. Rescue 22 responded at 8:50 p.m. and arrived two minutes later to find nothing showing. An investigation by Rescue 22s crew and police determined that the anonymous 911 call reporting the blaze was an apparent malicious false alarm and may have been part of an ongoing dispute between area neighbors. Rescue 22 recalled and returned to Station 22 by 8:58 p.m., thus ending a very usual series of incidents.
Chris Pangaldi was in the firehouse parking lot when he heard the sound
of the crash and looked over to see the Towncar come to a halt in the
shrubs. Pangaldi immediately ran into the firehouse and used the hotline
to the police desk. He advised the dispatcher of the accident, and asked
for the fire company and first aid squad to be dispatched. He then ran
over to the accident scene. Lawrence First Aid Squad was promptly dispatched.
However, when the dispatcher went to tone out Lawrence Road Fire Co.,
she hit the button for Station 23. Therefore, Lawrence Road pagers were
never activated, so the only members who responded were those who heard
the accident reported on their police scanners.
Fortunately, nearly a dozen Station 22 volunteers responded, and Rescue 22 was actually on the scene within one minute of the botched dispatch. Rescue 129 was also dispatched and arrived at 5:54 p.m. The Towncars female driver and her male passenger were not entrapped, but the shrubs around the car made it difficult for ambulance personnel to reach them. Firefighters therefore used a chainsaw to cut away some of the shrubs. Several Lawrence Road volunteers helped EMS personnel board and collar both of the cars occupants. Both victims were freed from the wreckage by 6:04 p.m. They were transported by ambulance to the trauma unit at Capital Health System at Fuld hospital, where their injuries were found to be not life-threatening.
33-2 responded at 1:39 p.m. and arrived on scene just one minute later.
Telesquirt 32 signed on radio at 1:38 p.m. and arrived at 1:43 p.m.
Engine 31-1 responded at 1:41 p.m. and arrived at 1:46 p.m. Engine 32-1
also arrived on the fireground at 1:46 p.m., having responded four minutes
earlier. Ladder Tower 31 signed on radio at 1:42 p.m. and reached the
scene at 1:48 p.m. Ladder Tower 33 responded at 1:50 p.m. and arrived
at 1:54 p.m. At 1:54 p.m., Mercer County Central Communications Center
started to cover the Ewing firehouses. While dispatchers correctly toned
out Titusvilles Union Fire Co. to cover Station 33, they mistakenly
toned out Pennington and Lawrenceville fire companies to cover the other
two stations. Mercer County Central was promptly advised of their error,
and both Pennington and Lawrenceville were recalled.
1:57 p.m. Slackwood Engine 21 was correctly dispatched to cover Station
31, Lawrence Road Engine 22-1 was dispatched to cover Station 32, and
Ladder Tower 80 from Yardley-Makefield Fire Co. (Bucks County, Pa.)
was dispatched to cover Station 33. Engine 22-1 responded with Rescue
Lt. Andrew Fosina in command and Ff. Michael Ratcliffe driving. Ff.
Edward Kitchen and Ff. Michael Byrd made up the crew. At 2:01 p.m.,
Engine 22-1 was requested to the fireground for manpower relief. Engine
22-1, which by that time was already on Eggerts Crossing Road enroute
to Pennington Roads firehouse, reached the scene at 2:08 p.m.
as first-in Ewing volunteers attacked the blaze, they realized that
contractors renovating the office had been in the process of removing
asbestos, and that plastic bags containing removed pieces of the cancer-causing
material were in close proximity to the flames. As a result, all firefighters
operating on the fire floor were ordered to wear SCBA at all times,
and a booster line was pulled off Engine 32-1 to hose down and decontaminate
firefighters as they exited the fire building. The blaze was declared
under control at 2:04 p.m.
2:02 p.m. Pennington Engine 51 was dispatched to cover Station 32 in
place of Engine 22-1. Engine 53-1 and Ladder Tower 80 both scratched
their assignment to cover West Trentons firehouse. Therefore,
Hopewell Engine 52 was dispatched at 2:18 p.m. to stand by at Station
33. At 2:19 p.m., Slackwood Snorkel 21 was toned out to relocate to
Station 32 but then scratched. So Lawrenceville Ladder Tower 23 was
dispatched at 2:31 p.m. to stand by at Pennington Roads station.)
after arriving on scene Ratcliffe was ordered to back Engine 22-1 into
a position where he would be able to supply tank water to Engine 32-1
if needed for the decon operation. A 3-inch supply line was stretched
from Engine 22-1 to Engine 32-1 as a precaution. Meanwhile, Engine 22-1s
crew stood by at the command post awaiting deployment. Fosina, Kitchen
and Byrd were eventually ordered to go into the fire building to position
several fans on the third floor to assist with ventilation efforts.
After exiting the building, Engine 22-1s crew was hosed down and
then sent to the EMS command post for a precautionary examination and
rehab. (At the same time Lawrence Road firefighters were sent into the
fire building, Engine 21, Ladder Tower 23, Engine 51, and Engine 52
were dispatched to check a smoke odor at 1980 North Olden Avenue. The
incident turned out to be minor.)
overhaul operations in the fire building, firefighters discovered that
at least one of the bags containing removed asbestos had melted in the
fire. As a result, incident commanders decided to upgrade the level
of decontamination. At 3:05 p.m. Engine 51 and Engine 52 were both special-called
to the scene for extra manpower. At 3:09 p.m., Special Services 27,
the HazMat unit from Bristol Myers Squibb, was special-called as well.
(Subsequently, an engine from Enterprise Fire Co. was dispatched at
3:06 p.m. to cover Station 32, and Trenton Engine 8 was dispatched at
3:10 p.m. to cover Station 33)
At 3:35 p.m., Special Services 27 arrived on scene and set up its decon shower in the parking lot. Several Ewing firefighters who did not wear SCBA during the initial stages of the fire were forced to strip out of their clothes and be hosed down in the shower. Several contractors who had also been in the building without protection when the fire broke out also underwent decontamination. Approximately 22 people, including Holt, several firefighters and contractors, were taken to area hospitals for an examination after they were decontaminated. Engine 22-1 was released at 4:55 p.m. Before leaving, Engine 22-1 pumped more than 250 gallons of water to refill the tank on Engine 32-1 (which was supplying Squibbs decontamination shower). Engine 22-1, which refilled its tank from a hydrant on Sullivan Way, was back in quarters at Station 22 by 5:21 p.m.
Control soon began receiving 911 calls from all over north Lawrence.
At 7:49 p.m., Lawrenceville Fire Co. was dispatched to help patrol units
check the numerous reports of damage. The extent of the damage quickly
became apparent and, at the request of Chief 23, Lawrence Road Fire
Co. volunteers were dispatched at 7:58 p.m. to assist. Engine 22-1 responded
with Rescue Capt. Chris Longo, Capt. Gary Wasko, Ff. Ed Budzinski, Ff.
Kelly Kasony and Ff. Mike Byrd as the crew. Utility 22 responded with
Capt. Martin Burch. (Byrd later left Engine 22s crew to team up
8:10 p.m., Chief 23 requested that Slackwood Fire Co. also be dispatched
to assist. (Chief 23 later requested that Lawrence Townships Office
of Emergency Management be activated. Rescue 129 from Lawrence First
Aid Squad and Special Services 27 from Bristol Myers Squibb Co. were
also special-called to assist.) Following a request for additional manpower
from Station 22, Engine 22, driven by Ff. James Yates, responded with
Lt. Steve Amiott, Ff. Joseph Dlabik Jr., Ff. Chris Pangaldi, Ff. Walter
Hlewicki, and Junior Ff. Jamie Yates. After dropping off Engine 22s
crew at the disaster scene James Yates returned the apparatus to Station
22, where several other Lawrence Road volunteers stood by to protect
the southern end of the township.
22s crew meanwhile split up to increase their effectiveness. Pangaldi,
Hlewicki and Jamie Yates joined Utility 22s crew, and Amiott and
Joseph Dlabik Jr. teamed up with the crew from Lawrencevilles
Ladder Tower 23. Initially, Engine 22-1 was ordered to check damage
to houses on Lawrence Road, proceeding north from the intersection with
Carter Road. Engine 22-1s crew removed fallen tree limbs from
the roadway and driveways of homes at 3331 and 3341 Lawrence Road. They
also discovered a fallen electrical wire that was still energized and
made a request for a PSE&G crew to expedite. They then discovered
that extensive damage had been sustained to the house at 3461 Lawrence
Road. Several trees were toppled in the yard, part of the homes
chimney was damaged, holes were punched in the roof, and planks were
literally torn away from the back porch.
Capt. Chris Longo and Capt. Gary Wasko were both hurt when a large tree
limb fell on them while they were assessing damage at a house on Lawrence
Road. The tree limb struck Longo on the head and Wasko on the shoulder.
Fortunately, both volunteers were wearing full protective clothing,
including their helmets. Longo began feeling dizzy not long after the
accident occurred. He was told to sit down and rest on Engine 22-1s
rear step and a priority message was radioed to Lawrence Control for
EMS to immediately respond to Engine 22-1s location. Assistant
Chief Wayne Hannon (traveling in his own pickup truck) and Chief 23
both arrived a short time later, followed by a Lawrence Township ambulance
and Telesquirt 23.
turnout gear was stripped off him and a brace placed around his neck
as a precaution. He was then loaded into the ambulance and rushed to
the emergency room at Capital Health System at Fuld hospital in Trenton.
Kasony rode in the ambulance alongside Longo and Deputy Chief Richard
Farletta responded in his deputy chiefs car to the hospital to
check on his condition. (Ultimately, Longo was examined and found not
to have suffered a concussion. He was later released from the hospital
and sent home.) Wasko was examined at the scene and did not require
transport. He was allowed to continue operating with Engine 22-1.
long after the ambulance departed with Longo, a transformer exploded
on a utility pole a short distance south of Engine 22-1 and Telesquirt
23. Chief 23 immediately ordered all apparatus and personnel to relocate
away from the live electrical wires that crossed overhead from the exploding
transformer. A short time later, several Lawrence Road members responded
in their personal vehicles to bolster Engine 22-1s depleted crew.
Ff. Shaun Dlabik responded in his jeep with Ff. Larry Forker, while
Ff. Joseph Dlabik Sr. responded with his pickup truck with Ff. Chris
Dlabik and Junior Ff. Matt Farletta. Engine 22-1, with its reinforced
crew, was next sent to check damage on nearby Deer Run.
soon found that the house at 3 Deer Run had sustained significant damage.
At least four large trees had fallen against the house, causing a large
hole to open up in the roof. A large section of soffit also had been
torn away. Using a ladder from Engine 22-1, Wasko, Forker and Shaun
Dlabik climbed to the roof and used chainsaws to cut up the trees that
had fallen against the home. Not far away, Amiott and Joseph Dlabik
Jr. worked with Ladder Tower 23s crew to check damage along Lawrence
Road north of the Bristol Myers Squibb property. They too cut up several
large trees that had fallen across the roadway. Utility 22s crew
(Burch, Byrd, Pangaldi, Hlewicki, and Jamie Yates) meanwhile was directed
to check on damage along Carter Road. Firefighters started at the intersection
with Lawrence Road and worked up Carter Road.
22s crew discovered extensive damage to trees and utility poles
along Carter Road. Several poles were so badly damaged that the live
electrical wires they supported were either torn completely away or
hung dangerously low. The firefighters used chainsaws to cut up and
remove trees from the road. They also checked on the welfare of residents
in each and every home. Just beyond 38 Carter Road, the road was found
to be completely impassable due to toppled trees and energized wires
that hung down to about shoulder height. Utility 22s crew came
across a woman who had hit a fallen tree while driving south on Carter
Road. The womans car was heavily damage. Although she herself
was not seriously injured, the woman had been shaken up by her ordeal.
Utility 22s crew immediately took the female to Lawrencevilles
firehouse, so she could wait in comfort until conditions on Carter Road
were made safe enough for her to retrieve her car. After dropping off
the civilian at Station 23, Utility 22s crew went to check Carter
Road on the opposite side of the roadway obstruction. To reach the area,
Utility 22 responded up Cold Soil Road, then down Van Kirk Road to Carter
Firefighters started near the entrance to Bristol Myers Squibb and worked down Carter Road, again clearing away debris in the roadway and checking every home. Firefighters were able to check all the way down to 58 Carter Road before they again found their path blocked by fallen trees and live electrical wires. Later, after PSE&G managed to secure power to the area and confirm that it had been turned off, Lawrence Road volunteers helped cut up and remove fallen trees from the middle of Carter Road. (Signal 22, the volunteer canteen from Trenton, arrived about 11:30 p.m. to provide weary firefighters with refreshments.) The last Lawrence Road firefighters finally returned to quarters by 12:30 a.m. The next day, the National Weather Service investigated and concluded that the damage in the township had been caused by powerful straight-line winds and not a tornado, as some firefighters and area residents had first suspected.
Rescuers found that the auto, a Dodge Colt, had struck the utility pole almost head-on. It had sustained heavy front end damage, then bounced back to come to rest a few feet from the pole. The cars front passenger, Igor Glouchenia, a 28-year-old Trenton resident who had suffered a laceration to his neck, was easily removed. But the driver, Anna Jurewicz-Mankowska, 25, also of Trenton, proved to be far harder to extricate. She had suffered head injuries and her legs were pinned by the crumpled dashboard. Rescue 129s crew stretched their Hurst tools on the drivers side, and Rescue 22s crew deployed their Holmatro tools on the passengers side. Engine 21s crew stood by with a hoseline as a precaution, and Engine 21-1s crew assisted where needed. Rescuers immediately removed the cars windshield. Rescue 22s crew used their Holmatro O-Cutter to cut away the front passengers side door. They then helped Rescue 129s crew cut away the front drivers side door. Relief cuts were then made on the floorboards and the A posts were cut. Holmatro and Hurst rams were then utilized to displace the dashboard. The injured woman was placed on a backboard and finally removed from the vehicle. After being extricated, the victims were taken by ambulance to the trauma unit at the Capital Health System at Fuld hospital in Trenton. The driver was admitted to the hospital in fair condition, while the passenger was treated and later released. At 4:41 a.m., as Slackwood personnel and Rescue 22s crew were still on Spruce Street waiting for the wrecked Dodge to be removed, Lawrence Control dispatched Station 21 and Station 22 to an activated fire alarm at 2572 Brunswick Pike. Engine 21-1 was ordered to remain on Spruce Street, while Engine 21 and Rescue 22 were both ordered to take in the new alarm. Engine 22, meanwhile, responded from quarters. The alarm was ultimately discovered to have been triggered by a malfunction and all Lawrence Road crews were back in Station 22 by 5:05 a.m.
9:37 a.m., Lawrence Control dispatched Slackwood Fire Co., Lawrence
Road Fire Co., and Lawrence First Aid Squad to the accident. Rescue
22 signed on radio at 9:40 a.m. with a crew that included Rescue Lt.
Andrew Fosina, Driver Robert Santello, Ff. Michael Ratcliffe, and Ff.
James Pidcock. (Pidcock moved to Colorado in 1999 but was back in New
Jersey at the time visiting family for the Thanksgiving holiday.) Engine
21-1 responded at 9:41 a.m., followed one minute later by Rescue 129.
Slackwood Chief Ken Johnson arrived on scene at 9:40 a.m. and found
that Haines legs were pinned under the crumpled dashboard of the
Chrysler. Engine 21-1 and Rescue 22 both arrived at 9:42 a.m. While
Engine 21-1s crew stretched a booster line into a standby position,
Ratcliffe cribbed the Chrysler and Santello cut the battery cable. Pidcock
and Fosina then went in service with Rescue 22s Holmatro Combination
Tool and O-Cutter to remove the front passengers side door. Once
the door was off, a relief cut was made, then Ratcliffe moved in with
a ram to displace the dashboard. Haines legs were still pinned
after the ram was extended, so additional extrication work became necessary.
Rescue 129, staffed by Lawrence First Aid Rescue Capt. Michael Byrd and EMT Kris Palmer (both of whom are Lawrence Road firefighters), arrived at 9:45 a.m. and immediately went into service assisting Rescue 22. A Glas-Master was used to remove the cars windshield. The front drivers side door was then cut off, and one of Rescue 129s rams was placed into position and extended on that side to lift the dashboard off Haines legs. The A and B posts on both sides were then cut through, relief cuts were made, and the roof was raised and folded back. Throughout the extrication, First Aid Squad EMT Jason Bergstrom stayed in the car to care for Haines. Once the roof was out of the way, a backboard was placed into position and Haines was slid onto the board. She was finally removed from the car at 10:05 a.m. She was then taken by Lawrence First Aid Squad to the Capital Health System at Fuld hospital, where she was treated for minor injuries and later released. Holcombe and her passenger were not injured, according to police. Police said Haines was issued a summons for careless driving. Rescue 22 cleared the scene at 10:15 a.m. and was back in quarters by 10:23 a.m.
Chief Bob Brackett responded at 1:28 p.m. After hearing on his scanner
an update over the township police frequency that the malls sprinkler
system had activated, Brackett ordered Mercer County Central Communications
Center to tone out the balance of Box 23-5s first alarm. As a
result, Engine 12 and Rescue 12 from Mercerville Fire Co. were both
dispatched. Heavy smoke was pouring from around the stock rooms
closed door when Lawrence Township police Sgt. Thomas Macheda arrived.
Macheda immediately radioed he had a working fire, and then directed
Patrolmen Judd Lippincott, Joe Lech IV, Chris DiMeglio and Jim Vardanega
to evacuate neighboring stores and to make sure that the fire lanes
outside the nearest mall entrance were clear of cars. Brackett ordered
a second alarm as soon as he heard Machedas sizeup. At 1:31 p.m.,
the Lawrence Road, Princeton Junction, Enterprise and Pennington Borough
fire companies were dispatched by Mercer County Central.
following apparatus responded: Engine 21-3 at 1:29 p.m.; Telesquirt
23 at 1:31 p.m.; Ladder Tower 44 at 1:33 p.m.; Engine 22 at 1:34 p.m.;
Snorkel 21 at 1:35 p.m.; Engine 23 at 1:35 p.m.; Engine 24 at 1:37 p.m.;
Engine 22-1 at 1:38 p.m.; Engine 51 at 1:39 p.m.; Engine 21 at 1:40
p.m.; Utility 21 at 1:40 p.m.; Rescue 12 at 1:40 p.m.; and Ladder Tower
23 at 1:45 p.m. Engine 12 and Special Services 14 also responded but
the times they signed on radio were not logged by Mercer County Central.
In addition to Chief 23, the following fireline officers responded separately:
Chief 14; Deputy 14-1; Deputy 21; Assistant 21; Deputy 22; Deputy 23;
Chief 44; Deputy 44; Assistant 44; Chief 51; and Deputy 51. (The following
Lawrence Road members responded: Assistant Chief Wayne Hannon, Capt.
Gary Wasko, Ff. Joseph Dlabik Sr., Ff. Joseph Dlabik Jr. and Ff. Michael
Byrd on Engine 22; Ff. Michael Ratcliffe, Ff. Walter Hlewicki, Ff. Chris
Dlabik and Ff. Kris Palmer on Engine 22-1; and Deputy Chief Richard
Farletta and his son, Junior Ff. Matt Farletta, in the deputy chiefs
car.) A 1:34 p.m., Lawrenceville Deputy Chief Don Huber arrived, followed
one minute later by Engine 21-3. The arrival times of Telesquirt 23
and Engine 22 were not logged by Mercer County Central. Ladder Tower
44 reached the scene at 1:39 p.m. Engine 23, Snorkel 21 and Engine 24
all arrived at 1:40 p.m. Engine 12 arrived at 1:41 p.m. Engine 22-1
and Special Services 14 arrived at 1:44 p.m., followed at 1:45 p.m.
by Rescue 12, and Engine 21 at 1:46 p.m. Engine 51 arrived at 1:49 p.m.,
followed at 1:53 p.m. by Ladder Tower 23. The arrival time of Utility
21 was incorrectly logged.
converged on the mall entrance near the Sears pickup department,
since that entrance opened directly onto the malls upper level
and was located not far from the Electronics Boutique store. The sprinkler
system initially held the fire in check and contained the flames to
the Electronics Boutique stock room. But at some point before the blaze
was entirely extinguished, mall maintenance workers (allegedly wishing
to prevent water damage) shut off the sprinkler head in the stock room.
As a result, the flames started to again intensify. At the time, firefighters
did not know the sprinkler system had been shut off. Therefore, Slackwood
firefighters were ordered to connect a supply line to the exterior fire
department connection to supplement the malls sprinkler system.
Lawrenceville firefighters meanwhile attempted to stretch a 1.75-inch
handline from Telesquirt 23 down an access hallway alongside McDonalds
restaurant. But the distance was too great and the handline would not
reach. Engine 22s crew was then directed to break into a locked
cabinet containing a preconnected mall firehose.
Ultimately, the fire was knocked down and was declared under control at 1:57 p.m. Although damage was contained to the stock room, the entire Electronics Boutique store was damaged by smoke. The store directly below, Bath & Body Works, sustained water damage. A large portion of the mall was also filled with a strong odor of the smoke the still filled Electronics Boutique. As a result, positive pressure fans, including one from Engine 22, were used to blow smoke from the store out in the mall concourse, so it could be removed by the malls exhaust system. Shoppers getting ready for the upcoming holiday season appeared unconcerned by the fact that there was a total of nine engines, three aerials, one rescue, one cascade, one utility and 12 fire chiefs vehicles on the scene, as well as numerous police vehicles and several emergency medical units. In fact, some shoppers tried driving around the apparatus in an effort to park as close as possible to the mall entrance. Several of the motorists became very upset when they were told by firefighters to move their cars. After settling for distant parking spaces, many shoppers entered the mall through other entrances and continued to shop. (Although a few businesses on the upper level near the Electronics Boutique store were closed, other businesses on the opposite side of the upper level and the entire first floor remained open.) Both Lawrence Road engines were released from the scene about 2:22 p.m. and were back in quarters by 2:35 p.m. Throughout the incident, Ladder Tower 31 and an engine from Station 32 stood by at the Lawrence Road firehouse, while Engine 14-1 covered Station 21 and Engine 52 covered Station 23.
Utility 22s crew was retrieving the submersible pumps, Lawrence
Control began receiving several 911 calls reporting a working fire in
the home at 63 J. Russel Smith Road in the Tiffany Woods development
located off Spruce Street. At 7:28 p.m., Lawrence Control dispatched
the Slackwood and Lawrence Road fire companies, as well as an ambulance
from the Lawrence First Aid Squad. Hannon and Utility 22 immediately
responded back to Station 22. Prospect Heights Fire Co. (which is supposed
to be automatically dispatched on all alarms in that part of Slackwoods
district) was dispatched at 7:30 p.m. by Mercer County Central Communications
John Fleming signed on radio at 7:28 p.m., followed two minutes later
by Slackwood Deputy Chief Mark Lenarski. Engine 21-1 signed on radio
at 7:30 p.m., followed at 7:31 p.m. by Engine 22. Snorkel 21 and Rescue
22 both responded at 7:32 p.m. (Engine 22 was staffed by Hannon, Ff.
Charles Commini, Ff. Edward Kitchen, Ff. Walter Hlewicki, Ff. Tim Kasony
Jr. and Savitsky. Rescue 22 had a crew of Capt. Gary Wasko, Pangaldi,
and Cocciolillo.) At 7:33 p.m., Lenarski arrived on scene and reported
he had heavy fire showing from the first-floor windows on Sides A and
B of a two-story semidetached home. He immediately ordered Mercer County
Central to dispatch the balance of Box 21-01s first alarm. As
a result, Rescue 32 from Pennington Road Fire Co. and the Lawrenceville
Fire Co. were toned out at 7:33 p.m.
apparatus to respond included: Squirt 31 at 7:35 p.m.; Ladder Tower
31 at 7:38 p.m.; Telesquirt 23 and Ladder Tower 23 both at 7:38 p.m.
Engine 22-1 responded at 7:44 p.m. with Ff. Michael Byrd, Ff. Joseph
Dlabik Sr., Ff. Joseph Dlabik Jr., Ff. Shaun Dlabik and Ff. Chris Dlabik
on board. Engine 31-1 responded at 7:45 p.m. Rescue 32 also responded
but its response time was not logged. Fleming reached the scene at 7:34
p.m., followed seconds later by both Engine 21-1 and Engine 22.
21-1 positioned in front of the fire building, and its crew immediately
stretched a 1.75-inch handline. As flames shot out from the first-floor
front window, the Slackwood firefighters entered the home through the
front door and began to attack the flames in the living room
which was fully-involved. A second 1.75-inch handline was stretched
a short time later as a backup line. Meanwhile, Engine 22 took up a
position at a hydrant at the end of J. Russel Smith Road. While Commini
hooked up to the hydrant, Engine 22s crew hand-stretched 100 feet
of 5-inch supply hose to Engine 21-1. The other apparatus arrived in
this order: Snorkel 21, Rescue 22 and Squirt 31 all at 7:37 p.m.; Ladder
Tower 31 at 7:41 p.m.; Telesquirt 23 and Ladder Tower 23 both at 7:45
p.m.; Engine 31-1 at 7:47 p.m.; Engine 22-1 at 7:48 p.m.; and Rescue
32 at 7:53 p.m.
completing the supply line to Engine 21-1, Kitchen, Hlewicki, and Kasony
reported to the front of the fire building to wait for new orders. Eventually,
they were directed to use the thermal imaging camera off Rescue 22 to
check for fire extension in the exposure building at 65 J. Russel Smith
Road. Ultimately, they found no extension and only a slightly odor of
smoke in that homes attic. After raising Rescue 22s telescopic
light tower to illuminate the fireground, Pangaldi and Wasko were ordered
to ventilate the fire building from the inside. They climbed up the
stairs to the second floor, where they encountered moderate heat and
zero visibility. Pangaldi and Wasko in turn smashed several windows
to release all that trapped heat and smoke.
7:51 p.m. Lenarski declared the fire under control. Almost immediately,
he began releasing some of the unneeded mutual aid units. Rescue 32
was released at 7:57 p.m.; Engine 31-1 was released at 7:59 p.m.; Telesquirt
23 and Ladder Tower 23 were both released at 8:15 p.m.; Squirt 31 and
Ladder Tower 31 were released at 8:42 p.m. Once the blaze was clearly
under control, Pangaldi and members of Engine 22-1s crew used
the cascade system on Rescue 22 to refill several SCBA bottles. The
living room at the front of the first floor of 63 J. Russel Smith Road
was destroyed by the fire. A couch that had been alongside the living
rooms front window was reduced to a pile of blackened ashes. The
remainder of the home sustained extensive heat and smoke damage. The
blaze was investigated by Lawrence Township Police Detective William
Eggert, Lawrence Township Fire Inspector Dale Robbins, Mercer County
Assistant Fire Marshal John Kubilewicz and Wasko (who was the on-call
arson detective from the Mercer County Prosecutors Office).
The investigators concluded that the fire had been caused by a malfunction of Christmas lights that had hung around the front window in the living room. Residents later told investigators that they had left the Christmas lights constantly turned on for more than a week. Engine 22-1 was released from the scene first at 9:03 p.m. Rescue 22 and Engine 22 remained on scene until 10:10 p.m. All Lawrence Road apparatus were in quarters by 10:20 p.m. Slackwoods apparatus were all back in their station by 10:27 p.m. During the incident, Hamiltons Engine 14-3 covered Slackwoods firehouse, Pennington Roads Engine 32-1 and West Trentons Engine 33-1 both covered Lawrence Roads firehouse, and Penningtons Ladder Tower 51 covered Lawrencevilles firehouse.