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OCTOBER 13, 2006


Arby's Restaurant, Mercer Mall,
3375 Brunswick Pike, Lawrence Township

Lawrence Road Fire Co. volunteers helped battle a fire that destroyed the sign and part of the overhang outside a Mercer Mall restaurant during the evening of Friday, October 13, 2006.

It was 10:26 p.m. when the Mercer County Central Communications Center transmitted Box 23-50 and dispatched all three Lawrence Township fire companies – Lawrenceville (Station 23), Lawrence Road (Station 22) and Slackwood (Station 21) – for a reported fire involving the sign above the Arby’s Restaurant at the Mercer Mall shopping center at 3375 Brunswick Pike.

Lawrenceville Chief Dave Burns responded in Car 23 at 10:27 p.m., followed at 10:28 p.m. by Lawrence Road Chief Wayne Hannon in Car 22, Deputy Chief Chris Pangaldi in Car 22-1, and Slackwood Chief Michael Oakley in Car 21.

Engine 22 responded at 10:29 p.m., followed by Telesquirt 23, Engine21 and Rescue 22 all at 10:30 p.m., and then Ladder Tower 23 at 10:34 p.m., and Snorkel 21 at 10:39 p.m.

Engine 22 was commanded by Capt. Michael Byrd, driven by Ff. Matthew Farletta, and crewed by Ff. Evan Kutzin, Ff. R.J Laird, and Ff. Mark Lenarski Jr.

Rescue 22 was commanded by Capt. Michael Ratcliffe, driven by Ff. Charles Commini Sr., and crewed by Ff. John Britton, Ff. Brian Laue, and Junior Ff. Todd Lenarski.

At 10:33 p.m. Oakley arrived on location and reported he had light smoke showing from the overhang in front of the restaurant, which was located on the end of a row of stores.

Telesquirt 23 arrived moments later and took a position in front of the restaurant. Engine 22 arrived at 10:34 p.m. and took a staging position at a hydrant in the parking lot of the mall.

Also at 10:34 p.m., Burns arrived and assumed command.

Engine 21 reached the scene at 10:36 p.m. and was ordered to take a staging position in the parking lot. Rescue 22, meanwhile, arrived at 10:37 p.m. and was directed by Burns to take a position behind Telesquirt 23 and raise its telescopic light tower to illuminate the fireground.

Hannon and Pangaldi both arrived at 10:38 p.m.

Ladder Tower 23 arrived on location at 10:41 p.m., followed by Snorkel 21 at 10:46 p.m. Both apparatus staged in the parking lot and sent their manpower up to the scene.

Crews from Telesquirt 23, Rescue 22 and Engine 22 raised three ground ladders up to the overhang and the sign. Britton and Lawrenceville Deputy Chief Ray Nagy climbed up and used axes to dismantle the sign and expose the fire burning the wood underneath. A booster line stretched from Telesquirt 23 was used to extinguish the flames.

Other firefighters on the ground used pike poles to pull apart plywood and other materials that made up the inside of the overhang. Byrd and Laird also later climbed up a ladder and used a halligan bar and a chainsaw to open up some harder-to-reach spots to check for extension.

Engine 21’s crew, meanwhile, forced entry to the restaurant in order to shut off electricity to the sign and to make sure there was no fire extension to the interior.

The fire was almost entirely extinguished by 10:51 p.m.

An electrical fault in the sign was believed to have sparked the blaze.

A Lawrence Township ambulance stood by on scene but there were no injuries reported.

At 11:07 p.m., Burns recalled all units with the exception of Telesquirt 23, Ladder Tower 23 and Rescue 22. Engine 22, which took up from the scene at 11:14 p.m., was in quarters by 11:21 p.m.

Rescue 22 was released at 11:18 a.m. and back in station by 11:26 p.m.

All photos courtesy of and copyright (c) 2006 by Michael Weeks.

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