Back to News

DECEMBER 10, 2005


8 Vanderveer Drive,
Lawrence Township

On Saturday, December 10, 2005, Lawrence Road Fire Co. volunteers responded first-due to a working structure fire.

It was 11:41 a.m. when Box 22-20 was transmitted by Mercer County Central Communications Center and all three Lawrence Township fire companies were dispatched, along with an ambulance from Lawrence First Aid Squad, to 8 Vanderveer Drive, which is operated by ARC Mercer as a group home for people with mental retardation and developmental disabilites.

Lawrenceville Chief Dave Burns responded in Car 23 at 11:41 a.m., followed by Lawrence Road Chief Wayne Hannon in Car 22 at 11:42 a.m.

At 11:42 a.m. Burns arrived on location and reported he had smoke showing from the one-story dwelling. Upon investigating further, Burns discovered a clothes dryer on fire with flames starting to spread up the adjacent wall.

After making sure the group home's four residents and two staff members were safely outside, Burns radioed Mercer County Central and reported he had a working fire.

That resulted in Mercer County Central dispatching Rescue 32 from Ewing Township's Pennington Road Fire Co. to the scene as the rapid intervention team at 11:45 a.m.

Telesquirt 23 responded at 11:44 a.m., followed by Telesquirt 22 at 11:45 a.m.

Telesquirt 22 was commanded by Ff. Joseph Dlabik Jr., driven by Capt. Shaun Dlabik, and crewed by Ff. Brian Laue and Ff. R.J. Laird.

Engine 22 and Snorkel 21 responded at 11:46 a.m., followed by Ladder Tower 23 at 11:49 a.m., Rescue 32 at 11:50 a.m. and Rescue 22 at 11:51 a.m.

Engine 22 was commanded by Capt. Michael Ratcliff, driven by Ff. Charles Commini Sr., and crewed by Ff. Charles Commini Jr., Ff. Chris Dlabik and Ff. Adam Rivera.

Rescue 22 was commanded by Lt. Edward Kitchen, driven by Ff. Joseph Dlabik Sr., and crewed by Ff. Steven Hodgdon and Ff. Martin Burch.

Hannon, who arrived on scene at 11:45 a.m., assumed command. Telesquirt 22 arrived at 11:46 a.m. and its crew led off with an 1.75-inch hoseline.

Engine 22, which arrived on location at 11:47 a.m., was ordered by Hannon to lay a supply line from a hydrant at the corner of Lawrence Road and Vanderveer Drive.

As Engine 22 was prepairing to lay the line, Telesquirt 23 arrived and took a position behind Telesquirt 23.

Engine 22 then laid 400 feet of 5-inch hose to Telesquirt 22.

Snorkel 21, meanwhile, reached the scene at 11:53 a.m. and was ordered by Hannon to proceed around Burning Tree Lane to Twin Oaks Drive to take a position along Side D of the fire building.

Rescue 22 arrived at 11:52 a.m. and hooked up to the hydrant at Lawrence Road and Vanderveer Drive to fed the supply line laid by Engine 22.

(Ultimately, the supply line was not needed as the fire was quickly knocked down and Telesquirt 23 provided Telesquirt 22 its tank water as a precaution.)

Ladder Tower 23 arrived at 11:54 a.m.

At 11:56 a.m. Hannon reported tyhat the bulk of the fire had been knocked down and that he was holding with the units on the scene. As a result, Rescue 32 was recalled.

Overhaul was completed with no extension of fire found beyond the wall next to the clothes dryer, which was located just off the home's kitchen.

There was, however, extensive smoke damage sustained to the entire house and water damage sustained to the kitchen, rendering the house temporarily uninhabitable. As a result, ARC Mercer made provisions to move the residents to another nearby group home.

Rescue 22 cleared the scene at 12:19 p.m. and was in quarters by 12:22 p.m., while Engine 22 left at 12:29 p.m. and was back at Station 22 by 12:33 p.m.

All the remaining units left the scene about 12:35 p.m., with Telesquirt 22 backing into quarters at 12:41 p.m.

Investigators later concluded that an excessive buildup of lint in the clothes dryer was the most likely cause of the blaze.

All photos copyright (c) 2005 by Michael Ratcliffe and Charles Commini Jr.

Top of page