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OCTOBER 20, 2004


283 Johnson Avenue,
Lawrence Township

Arson was the cause of a fully-involved car fire that was fought by members of Lawrence Road Fire Co. during the early morning of Wednesday, October 20, 2004.

It was 1:22 a.m. when Mercer County Central Communications Center transmitted Box 22-10 and toned out all three Lawrence Township fire companies for a reported car fire next to the house at 283 Johnson Avenue.

At 1:24 a.m. Deputy Chief Wayne Hannon responded in Car 22-1, while Chief John Fleming responded in Car 22.

Rescue 22, meanwhile, signed on radio at 1:25 a.m., with Lt. Michael Ratcliffe in command, Lt. Shaun Dlabik driving, and Ff. Brian Laue, Ff. Chris Dlabik, Ff. Ryan Dlabik and Ff. Joseph Dlabik Jr. as crew.

At 1:26 a.m. Slackwood Safety Officer Jack Oakley arrived on location and reported that he had a Cadillac fully-involved in flames, with no immediate exposure problems.

Engine 22 responded at 1:26 a.m., with Rescue Capt. Andrew Fosina in command and Ff. Steven Amiott driving. Capt. Chris Pangaldi and Ff. Evan Kutzin were aboard as crew.

Hannon arrived at 1:26 a.m., while Telesquirt 23 responded at 1:27 a.m. Also at 1:27 a.m., Fleming and Rescue 22 both reached the scene.

Rescue 22ís crew immediately went in service with a 1.75-inch hoseline.

At 1:28 a.m., Snorkel 21 signed on radio, while Engine 22 arrived.

Engine 22ís crew immediately hooked up to supply Rescue 22 with their tank water and then helped stretch a second 1.75-inch hoseline from Rescue 22.

At 1:31 a.m., as the bulk of the fire was being knocked down, Fleming recalled all units with the exception of Rescue 22, Engine 22, and a Lawrence First Aid Squad ambulance that had also been dispatched.

During the fire, the Cadillacís fuel line ruptured and spilled gasoline on the ground, causing the flames to periodically flare up underneath the vehicle.

Initially, Rescue 22ís crew had difficulty opening the hood to attack flames in the engine compartment. The Holmatro spreaders were hauled out, but ultimately were not needed as firefighters finally managed to pop the hood.

The owner of the car advised Fleming and police officers on scene that earlier in the evening someone had smashed out all the vehiclesí windows.

As a result, the blaze was labeled suspicious in nature and Detective Lloyd Mathis, an arson investigator, was called to the scene from the Mercer County Prosecutorís Office.

Engine 22 was released at 1:53 a.m. by Fleming and was back in quarters by 2:02 a.m.

Rescue 22, meanwhile, remained on scene and assisted Mathis, providing lights and then giving the charred interior of the Cadillac a final soaking once the detective was finished with his investigation.

Rescue 22 finally took up from the scene at 2:57 a.m. and returned to the Lawrence Road firehouse by 3:02 a.m.

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