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647 Concord Circle,
Ewing Township

For the fourth time in two weeks, Lawrence Road Fire Co. volunteers responded mutual aid to Ewing Township to serve as the rapid intervention team at a working structure fire during the afternoon of Tuesday, September 5, 2006.

Mercer County Central Communications Center transmitted Box 31-10 and dispatched Prospect Heights Fire Co. (Station 31), Engine 32 from Pennington Road Fire Co., and Ladder Tower 33 from West Trenton Fire Co. at 3:25 p.m. after a resident of Concord Circle called 911 and reported seeing smoke coming from the house next door.

Squirt 31 signed on radio at 3:26 p.m., followed by Engine 32 and Ladder Tower 33 both at 3:28 p.m.

At 3:29 p.m., after receiving confirmation of a working fire from township police, Mercer County Central automatically upgraded the assignment to Box 31-10’s full first alarm. All three Ewing fire companies were re-dispatched at that time and Lawrence Road’s Rescue 22 was toned out to respond to the scene for RIT duties.

Snorkel 21 from Slackwood Fire Co. was also dispatched as an extra ladder at 3:30 p.m.

Rescue 22 responded at 3:30 p.m. with Ff. John Britton in command, Paid Driver Robert Santello driving, and a crew of Ff. Brian Laue, Ff. R.J. Laird, and Ff. Matthew Farletta.

Squirt 31 reached the scene at 3:30 p.m. and found heavy smoke issuing from the second floor of the two-story dwelling at 647 Concord Circle.

Engine 31 arrived at 3:31 p.m., followed by Ladder Tower 33 at 3:32 p.m.

A police officer who knows the family that lives in the home spotted one of the residents’ car parked in the driveway and feared the family’s three children might be trapped inside.

A team of firefighters immediately stretched a 1.75-inch hoseline from Squirt 31 through the front door and up the stairs to attack the flames on the second floor, while other crews began searching the smoke-filled house for possible victims.

Additional apparatus responded as follows: Snorkel 21 at 3:31 p.m.; Rescue 32 at 3:33 p.m.; and Engine 33-1 at 3:34 p.m.

Engine 22, Rescue 32, and Engine 33-1 all arrived at 3:37 p.m. Snorkel 21 arrived at 3:39 p.m. Light Plant 32 and Light Plant 31, whose response times were not logged, reached the scene at 3:40 p.m. and 3:45 p.m., respectively.

Rescue 22’s crew reported to Side A with their stokes basket full of tools and stood by as the rapid intervention team while interior crews tackled the blaze and searched the house.

A large diameter supply line laid by Engine 32 to a hydrant supplied water to Squirt 31. Meanwhile, a large hole was cut in the roof to vent smoke and heat from the structure.

At 3:45 p.m. the incident commander, Prospect Heights Chief Jeff Lenarski, reported to Mercer County Central that the primary search of the dwelling was negative.

A few minutes later, at 3:54 p.m., Lenarski declared the fire under control.

At that time, Rescue 22’s crew was relieved of RIT duties and ordered to complete a full secondary search of the residence. That search also came up negative.

A short time later, firefighters and police learned that the residents had all been accounted for and were all safe. The three children and their mother had gone out before the fire started, while the father of the family was at work in Philadelphia.

The family’s pet rabbit, still in its cage, was rescued from the home by Prospect Heights Deputy Chief Tom Leese, and the family’s dog was saved by Pennington Road firefighters. After being removed from house, the dog was placed in the cab of Ladder Tower 33 for safe keeping until a township animal control officer arrived.

The pets were removed to the township’s animal shelter, where they were going to stay until the family could collect them.

The flames were mostly contained to the second-floor bedroom where the fire started, but the entire house sustained smoke and heat damage and was declared to be uninhabitable.

Investigators eventually determined that an electrical problem had sparked the blaze.

Snorkel 21 and Rescue 22 were released from the scene at 4:37 p.m., and Rescue 22 was back in quarters at Station 22 by 4:44 p.m.

During the fire at 647 Concord Circle, a smoke condition was reported at the Burlington Coat Factory store in the Lawrence Shopping Center at 2495 Brunswick Pike.

It was 3:39 p.m. when all three Lawrence Township fire companies were toned out, along with Hamilton Fire Co. Ladder 14 as the RIT.

Because both Slackwood and Lawrence Road had units at the Ewing fire, Mercer County Central at 3:43 p.m. dispatched Mercerville Fire Co. Engine 12-1 and Colonial Fire Co. Aerial Tower 18 to assist at the Burlington Coat Factory.

Engine 22 – crewed by Ff. Ed Budzinski, Ff. Evan Kutzin and Ff. Joseph Dlabik Sr. – was one of the units that responded to the smoke condition.

By 4 p.m. the smoke had been traced to a minor electrical problem and all units had been recalled.

All photos copyright (c) 2006 by Michael Ratcliffe.

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