Back to News

FEBRUARY 4, 2005


163 Blackwell Road,
Hopewell Township

From Thursday, February 2, through Monday, February, 6, 2006, Lawrence Road Fire Co. volunteers were very busy. A total of 14 alarms were received during that time, including four working fires, a motor vehicle extrication, and two cover assignments.

During the evening of Saturday, February 4, 2006, volunteers from Lawrence Road Fire Co. responded mutual aid to Hopewell Township to help battle a raging structure fire.

It was 9:56 p.m. when Mercer County Central Communications Center transmitted Box 51-30 for a possible structure fire at 163 Blackwell Road.

Dispatched at that time was the district fire company, Pennington Borough (Station 51), and Telesquirt 23 from Lawrenceville Fire Co.

Rescue 51 and Telesquirt 23 both signed on radio at 10 p.m.

Township police officers soon arrived on location and reported a working fire, resulting in the assignment being upgraded to a full first alarm.

At 10:03 p.m. Mercer County Central retoned Station 51 and dispatched Engine 33 from West Trenton Fire Co., Rescue 22 from Lawrence Road Fire Co., Tanker 52 from Hopewell Borough Fire Co., and Tanker 53 from Union Fire Co. of Titusville.

Ladder Tower 51 responded at 10:03 p.m., followed by Tanker 52 at 10:04 p.m., Tanker 53 at 10:05 p.m., Rescue 22 at 10:07 p.m., and Engine 33 at 10:09 a.m.

Response times for Tanker 51 and Engine 51 were not logged.

Rescue 22 was commanded by Ff. John Britton and driven by Ff. Andrew Fosina, with a crew that included Ff. Steven Amiott, Ff. Charles Commini Sr., Ff. Brian Laue, Ff. Matt Farletta and Ff. Jarred Pierson.

Lawrence Road Deputy Chief Chris Pangaldi also responded in Car 22-1, and Lawrence Road Chief Wayne Hannon responded in Car 22.

Rescue 51 arrived on scene at 10:04 p.m., followed about 20 seconds later by Telesquirt 23. Both units took a position in the driveway of the residence and began firefighting efforts.

Ladder Tower 51 arrived at 10:09 p.m., followed by Rescue 22 at 10:12 p.m.

Tanker 51 arrived next at 10:14 p.m., followed by Engine 51 at 10:16 p.m., Tanker 53 at 10:15 p.m., Tanker 52 at 10:17 p.m., and Engine 33 at 10:23 p.m.

Hannon reached the scene at 10:17 p.m., followed by Pangaldi at 10:18 p.m.

Rescue 22 was ordered to take a position at the front of the driveway and set up to supply Rescue 51 and other the apparatus being used to battle the blaze.

Tanker shuttle operations were started and a portable pond was erected in front of Rescue 22. Rescue 22 then set up to draft from the portable pond to supply the other apparatus.

Tanker 71 from Upper Makefield Township Fire Co. of Bucks County, Pa. (which had been special-called at 10:06 p.m. to assist with tanker operations) responded at 10:17 p.m.

At 10:25 p.m. Hopewell Borough’s Engine 52 (which had been relocated to cover Station 51) was dispatched to Lawrenceville-Pennington Road and Wellington Avenue in Pennington Borough to hit the hydrant there to refill the tankers in the water shuttle.

Tanker 71 arrived at the fireground at 10:33 p.m.

The flames had gained considerable headway by the time the blaze was spotted by a passerby. Firefighters mounted an aggressive interior attack but found themselves hampered by heavy fire conditions and the already advanced spread of the fire.

After setting up the drafting operation, Rescue 22’s crew soon found themselves inside the building battling the flames.

At various points, Rescue 22’s crews went to work on all floors and on the roof cutting a ventilation hole. They also made the unfortunate discovery of two pet dogs dead inside the first-floor kitchen.

At 10:51 p.m. evacuation tones were sounded and all personnel ordered to evacuate the building after it appeared a collapse was imminent. Exterior operations were then implemented.

Ultimately, part of the second floor collapsed onto the first floor, and part of the first floor ended up in the basement.

The blaze was officially declared under control at 11:24 p.m. At that time, Tanker 71 was recalled. At 11:40 p.m. Engine 52 was ordered to relocated from the fill-site to the fireground.

Rescue 22’s cascade system was used to refill 16 SCBA bottles at the scene.

Tanker 53 was recalled at 11:46 p.m., while Engine 33 was recalled at 11:56 p.m. and Tanker 52 was recalled at 12:05 a.m.

Rescue 22 was released from the scene at 12:12 a.m. and was back in quarters at Station 22 by 12:22 a.m.

The other units remained on scene for some time to overhaul and assist investigators. Police later said the blaze did not appear to be of a suspicious origin.

The building was deemed to be a total loss, police said.

Later that morning, after the remaining apparatus had cleared the scene, a rekindle took place in the building.

It was discovered at 2:50 a.m. by Pennington Borough firefighters as they were returning to the scene to pick up equipment they had left behind.

Heavy fire was showing from the front on the second-floor when Utility 51 arrived.

Thus, at 2:52 a.m., a full first-alarm was sounded.

Apparatus that responded to the rekindle included Rescue 51, Tanker 51, Telesquirt 23, Rescue 22, Engine 33, Tanker 52 and Tanker 53.

Rescue 22 responded with Capt. Michael Byrd in command and Capt. Michael Ratcliffe driving, with a crew of Laue, Farletta, Ff. R.J. Laird and Ff. Joseph Dlabik Jr.

By 3:10 a.m., the bulk of the fire had been knocked down again.

Rescue 22 arrived on the scene by 3:12 a.m. but, because the fire was under control, was immediately released by Command 51. Rescue 22 returned to quarters by 3:27 a.m.

Little more than two hours later, at 5:52 a.m., Lawrence Road firefighters were toned out for another mutual aid run for a working structure fire on Hale Street in Pennington Borough.

14 Runs:

02/02 – 06:32 hrs. – Lawrence: Brunswick Pike & Whitehead Road
Accident: Two cars and a school bus with a traffic light pole toppled; three patients transported by EMS.

02/02 – 08:13 hrs. – Lawrence: 51 Lawrenceville-Pennington Road
Fire Alarm Activation: Caused by burnt toast; no fire.

03/03 – 10:06 hrs. – Ewing: 13 Rockland Road
Structure Fire: Working fire in the basement of a one-story dwelling.

03/03 – 11:16 hrs. – Ewing: 932 Lower Ferry Road (Homasote Co.)
Structure Fire: Machinery fire in basement of recycling plant.

03/03 – 11:33 hrs. – Lawrence: 2525 Princeton Pike (Lawrence High School)
Fire Alarm Activation: System malfunction.

03/03 –11:39 hrs. – Ewing: Station 32 (Pennington Road Fire Co.)
Cover Assignment: Rescue 22 covered Station 32 during Homasote fire.

02/04 – 04:38 hrs. – Princeton Township: Station 63 (Mercer Engine 3)
Cover Assignment: Engine 22 covered Station 63 during Palmer Square fire.

02/04 – 15:42 hrs. – Lawrence: Interstate 95
Accident: Overturned car; no entrapment.

02/04 – 22:03 hrs. – Hopewell Township: 163 Blackwell Road
Structure Fire: Two-story home heavily involved in fire.

02/05 – 02:52 hrs. – Hopewell Township: 163 Blackwell Road
Structure Fire: Small rekindle of earlier fire.

02/05 – 05:52 hrs. – Pennington Borough: 306 Hale Street
Structure Fire: Heavy fire in rear addition of one-story dwelling.

02/05 – 06:00 hrs. – Pennington Borough: Station 51 (Pennington Fire Co.)
Stand-By Assignment: Engine 22 dispatched for cover, then recalled.

02/05 – 20:25 hrs. – Lawrence: 93 Irwin Place
Smoke Condition: Faulty oil burner; heavy smoke in house; no fire.

02/06 – 10:24 hrs. – Lawrence: Quakerbridge Road at Grovers Mill Road
Accident: Overturned tractor-trailer with driver trapped.

All photos copyright (c) 2006 by Michael Ratcliffe.

Top of page