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APRIL 9, 2006


Lawrenceville Elementary School,
40 Craven Lane, Lawrence Township

The activation of an automatic fire alarm system alerted firefighters to a working fire in a classroom at Lawrenceville Elementary School on Sunday, April 9, 2006.

It was 9:33 a.m. when Lawrenceville Fire Co. (Station 23) was dispatched on Box 23-10 by Mercer County Central Communications for a fire alarm at the school at 40 Craven Lane.

Lawrenceville Assistant Chief Clyde D’Angelo responded at 9:37 a.m.

At 9:40 a.m., with no apparatus yet on the road from Station 23, Mercer County Central re-toned Station 23 and added Lawrence Road’s Engine 22 to the assignment to assist.

Telesquirt 23 then responded at 9:40 a.m.

D’Angelo arrived on scene at 9:40 a.m., followed by Telesquirt 23 at 9:42 a.m. Nothing was showing from the school as they worked to gain entry to check the school’s alarm panel.

Engine 22 responded at 9:45 a.m. with Assistant Chief Shaun Dlabik in command, Ff. Andrew Fosina driving, and a crew of Ff. Jarred Pierson, Ff. Evan Kutzin, and Ff. Matt Farletta.

Deputy Chief Chris Pangaldi also responded in Car 22-1 at 9:45 a.m.

Pangaldi reached the scene at 9:48 a.m., followed by Engine 22 at 9:49 a.m.

Just as Engine 22 was arriving, heavy smoke was seen issuing from a modular classroom at the rear of the school.

At 9:50 a.m. D’Angelo ordered Mercer County Central to transmit the full first alarm for Box 23-10, which resulted in all three Lawrence Township fire companies being dispatched for full station responses to the school.

Meanwhile, the crews from Telesquirt 23 and Engine 22 gained entry to the classroom and discovered several piles of paper burning. Firefighters quickly removed the burning material from the classroom and doused the fire using a water can extinguisher from Engine 22.

Firefighters confirmed there was no extension of fire beyond the paper piles. As a result, all units were recalled at 9:54 a.m. with the exception of Telesquirt 23 and Engine 22.

Firefighters later concluded that the fire had been started accidentally by rays of sunlight, coming in through a window, being magnified and reflected onto the paper by a small mirror.

Had the fire alarm not sounded and alerted firefighters, the blaze could easily have grown in size and burn undetected until it had destroyed the entire classroom.

After ventilating smoke from the classroom, firefighters turned the scene over to school custodial staff for cleanup. Engine 22 and Telesquirt 23 cleared the scene at 10:08 a.m.

Engine 22 was back in quarters by 10:14 a.m.

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