DECEMBER 25, 2001
13 Blackwell Avenue, Hopewell Borough
On Christmas night, Tuesday, December 25, 2001, members of Lawrence Road Fire Co. responded mutual aid to the scene of a house fire in Hopewell Borough.
The blaze in the large 2.5-story house at 13 Blackwell Avenue apparently started when fire spread, via a hole or crack in the firebox, from a first-floor fireplace to the exterior wall on Side B.
Hopewell Borough firefighters were dispatched at 10:42 p.m. for a possible chimney fire. Hopewell Chief Rob Hodes signed on radio at 10:44 p.m., followed by Engine 52 at 10:45 p.m.
At 10:46 p.m. Hodes arrived on location and found flames burning up the vinyl siding of the home on Side B from the first floor up to the roof. Hodes immediately radioed to Mercer County Central Communication Center that he had a working fire and requested that the full first alarm on Box 52-10 be dispatched.
Seconds later Mercer County Central toned out Ladder Tower 51 and Engine 51 from Pennington Borough, along with Rescue 22 from Lawrence Road Fire Co. and Telesquirt 23 from Lawrenceville Fire Co. An engine from Montgomery Fire Co. 2 (Somerset County Station 46) was later dispatched as the FAST team at 10:52 p.m.
Rescue 52 responded at 10:47 p.m., followed one minute later by Tanker 52. Engine 52 arrived on location at 10:49 p.m., followed about a minute later by both Rescue 52 and Tanker 52. Hopewell firefighters went in service with a 1.75-inch hoseline to attack the fire, and also laid their own LDH supply line out to a hydrant on Broad Street.
Rescue 22 was the next apparatus to respond at 10:50 p.m. Rescue 22 was commanded by Assistant Chief Wayne Hannon, driven by Ff. Michael Ratcliffe, and crewed by Rescue Capt. Chris Longo, Lt. Chris Pangaldi, Ff. Larry Forker, and Ff. Shaun Dlabik.
Telesquirt 23 and Ladder Tower 51 responded at 10:53 p.m., followed by Engine 51 at 10:54 p.m.
Ladder Tower 51 arrived on location at 11 p.m. and staged behind Engine 52. Engine 51 reached the scene at 11:01 p.m., staged on Broad Street, and then sent its manpower up to the scene.
Rescue 22 arrived at 11:05 p.m. and was directed to back down Blackwell Avenue into a position behind Ladder Tower 51. Ratcliffe raised Rescue 22s light tower and set up for cascade operations, while Hannon and the rest of Rescue 22s crew reported to Chief 52 for orders.
Telesquirt 23 reached the scene at 11:06 p.m. and was sent around the corner to come up Blackwell Avenue from the opposite direction to take up a position along Side B of the burning house.
The engine from Montgomery also arrived at 11:06 p.m., staged on Broad Street and sent its manpower up.
Rescue 22s crew was eventually sent into the house to check for fire extension on the third floor along the wall where the chimney was located. Ratcliffe, meanwhile, used the cascade to refill four of Hopewells air bottles.
Telesquirt 23s ladder was then raised and members of Telesquirt 23s crew climbed up the ladder to use a chainsaw to open up the exterior wall to check for any hidden fire near the roof line.
The fire was declared under control at 11:22 p.m., but firefighters continued to overhaul for some time.
The Montgomery engine and Engine 51 were released from the scene at 11:50 p.m. Ladder Tower 51 was recalled at 12:03 a.m. Rescue 22 cleared the scene at 12:05 a.m. and was back in quarters at Station 22 by 12:26 a.m.
The Hopewell apparatus and Telesquirt 23 remained on location until about 12:50 a.m.