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JUNE 25, 2005


Red Lobster,
3255 Brunswick Pike, Lawrence Township

At 1:18 p.m. on Saturday, June 25, 2005, Mercer County Central Communications Center transmitted Box 23-50 for a possible structure fire at the Red Lobster restaurant at 3255 Brunswick Pike (Route 1).

Dispatched at that time were all three Lawrence Township fire companies -- Lawrenceville (Station 23), Lawrence Road (Station 22), and Slackwood (Station 21) -- as well as an ambulance from Lawrence First Aid Squad (Squad 129).

As they responded, firefighters were advised that a 911 call from the Red Lobster reported a smoke condition inside the restaurant.

Engine 22 responded with Lt. Edward Kitchen in command, Capt. Michael Ratcliffe driving, and a crew of Ff. Joseph Dlabik Jr. and Ff. Charles Commini Jr. Chief Wayne Hannon also responded in Car 22.

(Capt. Shaun Dlabik and Ff. Joseph Dlabik Sr. were both in the area at the time and went directly to the scene in their own vehicles.)

Firefighters arrived to find patrons and employees in the process of evacuating the restaurant.

Telesquirt 23, Snorkel 21 and Engine 23 went to the front of the building and crews entered the Red Lobster to check the interior.

Ladder Tower 23 and Engine 22, meanwhile, proceeded to the rear. Engine 22 took up a position whereby, if necessary, it could lay a supply line from Ladder Tower 23 out to a hydrant on Route 1.

Ladder Tower 23 raised its ladder to the roof and its crew climbed up to check all the heating/air conditioner units on the roof.

Engine 22's crew, meanwhile, was ordered to report to the front of the building to stand by as a rapid intervention team.

Engine 21 and Rescue 21 were ordered by Lawrenceville Chief Dave Burns to report to the parking lot of the Toys 'R' Us store adjacent to the Red Lobster and investigate a possible vehicle fire there.

Slackwood firefighters soon discovered that there was actually a small fire in the rear of a parked car in the Toys 'R' Us lot. They used a booster line from Engine 21 to quickly extinguish it.

Ultimately, firefighters determined that there was no fire in the Red Lobster and that the smoke condition in the restaurant had been caused by a faulty air handler on the roof.

The car fire which coincidentally broke out about the same time was found to have been caused by discarded smoking materials.

All apparatus cleared the scene by about 1:45 p.m.

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