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DECEMBER 8, 2006


120 Nancy Lane,
Ewing Township

Volunteers from Lawrence Road Fire Co. responded mutual aid into Ewing Township to assist at the scene of a working structure fire during the morning of Friday, December 8, 2006.

It was 9:22 a.m. when Mercer County Central Communications Center transmitted Box 31-10 for a reported fire at 120 Nancy Lane.

Dispatched at that time were the Prospect Heights Fire Co. (Station 31), Engine 32 from Pennington Road Fire Co., Ladder Tower 33 from West Trenton Fire Co., and an ambulance.

Just moments later, Ewing Township police officers arrived on scene and reported they had heavy smoke showing from the two-story dwelling.

Prospect Heights firefighters were already on the road because of an earlier assignment, so Engine 31 and Prospect Heights Deputy Chief Tom Leese responded within seconds.

Leese arrived on scene at 9:24 a.m. and confirmed a working house fire. He immediately ordered Mercer County to upgrade to Box 31-10’s full first alarm.

As a result, all three Ewing Township fire companies were retoned and Lawrence Road’s Rescue 22 was dispatched to the scene as the rapid intervention team at 9:25 a.m.

Engine 32 responded at 9:24 a.m., followed by Engine 31-1 at 9:25 a.m., Ladder Tower 33 at 9:25 a.m., and Rescue 22 at 9:28 a.m.

Rescue 22 was commanded by Capt. Michael Byrd and was driven by Paid Driver Robert Santello. The crew included Ff. John Britton, Ff. Adam Rivera, and Ff. Matthew Farletta.

Engine 31, whose arrival time was not recorded, initiated an interior attack using a 1.75-inch hoseline. Engine 32 arrived at 9:27 p.m. and laid a LDH supply line to a nearby hydrant.

Engine 31-1 reached the scene at 9:28 a.m., followed by Ladder Tower 33 and Rescue 22 both at 9:33 a.m. Ewing Township Ambulance 139-1 arrived on location at 9:34 a.m.

When police and firefighters arrived, the owner of the house, a 78-year-old man, was already outside, suffering from burns to his hands and his scalp.

He told emergency personnel he had been downstairs when he realized the house was on fire. Fearing that his 52-year-old daughter was trapped on the second floor, he ran upstairs and was burned as he tried to search for her. The growing heat and smoke soon forced him to flee.

The man's daughter was later found safe elsewhere.

An investigation by Ewing Township detectives later revealed that the daughter had allegedly intentionally set fire to a bathrobe on the second floor and left the house. Police alleged the woman, who reportedly had had an argument with her father earlier in the day, had wanted to kill the elderly man.

The daughter, who authorities said had a history of emotional problems, was charged with aggravated arson and ordered by a Superior Court judge to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

The blaze heavily damaged the second-floor of the residence before it was brought under control by Ewing firefighters at 9:36 a.m.

Rescue 22’s crew initially stood by as the RIT, but after the fire was under control Rescue 22’s crew was put to work helping overhaul the heavily-damaged second floor.

At 10:16 a.m. Slackwood’s Snorkel 21 and Enterprise’s Engine 14-2 were special-called to the scene from their cover assignments to help overhaul.

Rescue 22 was eventually released from the scene at 11:15 a.m. and was back in quarters by 11:19 a.m.

All photos copyright (c) 2006 by Michael Ratcliffe.

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