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AUGUST 12, 2006

BRUSH FIRE WITH EXPOSURE PROBLEM

3131 Princeton Pike,
Lawrence Township



On Saturday, August 12, 2006, Lawrence Road Fire Co. volunteers helped extinguish a large brush fire burning up against the exterior wall of a Princeton Pike office building.

It all started at 10:05 a.m. when Lawrence Road (Station 22) and Lawrenceville (Station 23) fire companies were dispatched to investigate an activated fire alarm at 10 Wenczel Drive.

Telesquirt 22 and Ladder Tower 23 responded and arrived to find that there was no fire or any other problem, and that the alarm had been accidental set off by a resident who was cooking.

Firefighters were still on Wenczel Drive, gathering information from the resident for their report about the fire alarm, when all three Lawrence Township fire companies were dispatched by the Mercer County Central Communications Center at 10:12 a.m. for a possible structure fire.

Both Telesquirt 22 and Ladder Tower 23 immediately responded and were advised by Mercer County Central that the 911 caller was reporting there was a large brush fire burning up against the front of Building 2 in the office complex at 3131 Princeton Pike.

Telesquirt 22 was commanded by Assistant Chief Shaun Dlabik, driven by Capt. Michael Ratcliffe, and crewed by Ff. Charles Commini Jr., Ff. Joseph Dlabik Jr., Ff. Adam Rivera and Junior Ff. Todd Lenarski.

Lawrenceville Assistant Chief Clyde D’Angelo and Slackwood Chief Michael Oakley both responded at 10:13 a.m.

Engine 22 responded at 10:15 a.m. with Ff. Charles Commini Sr. in command, Ff. Joseph Dlabik Sr. driving, and Ff. Steven Amiott and Ff. Steven Hodgdon aboard as the crew.

Snorkel 21 also responded at 10:15 a.m., followed by both Engine 21 and Telesquirt 23 at 10:16 a.m.

At 10:16 a.m. D’Angelo, Oakley, Ladder Tower 23 and Telesquirt 22 all arrived on scene to find numerous shrubs and bushes, a small tree, and a large area of mulch ablaze right next to the Side A/B corner of the structure. Smoke from the fire was billowing across Princeton Pike.

D’Angelo ordered Telesquirt 22 to take the lead position in front of the building.

While Ratcliffe manned Telesquirt 22’s pump panel, Joseph Dlabik Jr. and Commini Jr. stretched a 1.75-inch preconnected hoseline and began attacking the flames. Members of Ladder Tower 23’s crew assisted in the effort by putting Telesquirt 22’s booster line to work.

Shaun Dlabik and Rivera, meanwhile, entered the office building with a thermal imaging camera to check for fire extension.

Lawrence First Aid Squad Ambulance 129-1, which had been dispatched as a precaution, reached the scene at 10:18 a.m., followed at 10:19 a.m. by Engine 22, Engine 21, and Telesquirt 23, and then by Snorkel 21 at 10:23 a.m.

The additional manpower used chainsaws to cut apart the burning shrubbery and tree, and also raised a ground ladder to the roof so the building’s soffit and roof could be checked for fire. Telesquirt 23’s aerial was raised to the roof at the A/B corner to assist with the investigation.

A small inspection hole was cut into the soffit near the corner, but no fire extension was found. The interior of the building also checked clear for fire, although there was smoke found in some areas of the structure.

The fire was officially declared under control at 10:39 a.m.

Slackwood units and Engine 22 were recalled a few minutes later. Telesquirt 22 remained on scene with Lawrenceville units to take up the hoselines.

Telesquirt 22 then refilled its tank with water from a hydrant on Princeton Pike and went available at 10:56 a.m. Telesquirt 22 was back in quarters by 11:08 a.m.

Lawrenceville crews stayed on scene until 11:25 a.m. to clear smoke from the building.

Investigators later determined that the blaze had been sparked by a carelessly discarded cigarette.



All photos copyright (c) 2006 by Michael Ratcliffe.

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