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DECEMBER 9, 2005


48 Hardwick Drive,
Ewing Township

During the morning of Friday, December 9, 2005, a crew of Lawrence Road Fire Co. volunteers responded mutual aid into Ewing Township to serve as the rapid intervention team at the scene of a house fire at 48 Hardwick Drive.

It was 11:05 a.m. when Mercer County Central Communications Center transmitted Box 31-10 and dispatched the Prospect Heights Fire Co. (Station 31), Engine 32 from Pennington Road Fire Co., and Ladder Tower 33 from West Trenton Fire Co. for a possible chimney fire.

Also dispatched at that time was Ambulance 139-1 from Ewing Township Emergency Medical Service.

About 4 or 5 inches of fresh snow had fallen that morning.

Ambulance 139-1 and Ladder Tower 33 both responded at 11:08 a.m., followed by Engine 32 at 11:10 a.m. and Squirt 32 at 11:13 a.m.

Ambulance 139-1 arrived on location at 11:11 a.m. and reported they had smoke showing from the front of the two-story dwelling.

The ambulance crew entered the house and learned from the residents that they had had a fire going in a wood burning-stove in their first-floor family room. After a smoke detector went off, residents spotted a glow in the wall above the stove and called 911.
Investigators later concluded that a crack in the exhaust pipe of the stove had allowed a fire to start inside the wall of the family room.

The ambulance crew quickly made sure everyone was out of the house and radioed Mercer County Central they had a working fire and needed a full first alarm.

At 11:12 a.m., Mercer County Central retoned all three Ewing Townsip fire companies and also dispatched Lawrence Road's Rescue 22 to the scene at the rapid intervention team.

Engine 32 arrvied at 11:13 a.m., followed by Ladder Tower 33 at 11:15 a.m. and Squirt 31 at 11:17 a.m.

An 1.75-inch hoseline from Engine 32 was stretched inside the dwelling, while Squirt 31 hit a nearby hydrant to supply Engine 32.

Meanwhile, Rescue 32 responded at 11:15 a.m., followed by Rescue 22 at 11:17 a.m.

Rescue 22 was commanded by Capt. Michael Byrd, driven by Paid Driver Robert Santello, and crewed by Ff. Steven Hodgdon, Ff. R.J. Laird, Ff. Evan Kutzin, Ff. Charles Commini Jr., and Ff. Martin Burch.

Rescue 32 arrived at 11:18 a.m., while Rescue 22 reached the scene at 11:21 a.m.

Rescue 22's crew, with their stokes basket full of RIT tools, assumed a standby position in front of the fire building.

Ewing firefighters, meanwhile, cut open the walls of the family room and the second-floor bedroom above the family room to reach the fire.

Flames were eventually contained to those areas and Prospect Heights Deputy Fire Chief Tom Leese declared the blaze under control at 11:27 a.m.

Telesquirt 32, which responded at 11:25 a.m., arrived on scene at 11:30 a.m.

Once the fire was out, Rescue 22's was dissolved of RIT responsibilities and helped repack Squirt 31's supply line.

At 11:51 a.m. all units with the exception of Squirt 31 and Engine 32 were recalled. (Those units remained on location until 12:37 p.m.)

Rescue 22 cleared the scene at 11:58 a.m. and was back at Station 22 by 12:05 a.m.

All photos copyright (c) 2005 by Michael Ratcliffe.

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