1ST Responder Newspaper - PA
Commercial Building Fire Goes to Three Alarms in Bern Twp. Bern Twp., PA - At approximately 7:50 P.M. on October 25th, four companies were dispatched to Bern Township in the 1900 block of Bernville Road at Evans Food Distribution for a fire alarm. Only about two JUMP TO FILE# minutes later did a 102517134 fire crew arrive on scene and requested to upgrade the assignment due to smoke showing from the "A/B" corner of a large commercial building. Engine 55 (Greenfields Fire Co.) arrived and crews hit the hydrant next to the parking lot of the building, stretched lines, and went inside to look for the fire. West Reading FD Engine 64 arrived and assisted crews with looking for the fire. While crews searched for the fire, Capt. 55 assumed command and requested Goodwill Fire Co. Ladder 10 to set up on the "A" side of the structure. Operations were moved to Berks Fire Ops 2. Interior crews had smoke pushed to the floor and temperatures still climbing. After several minutes under these conditions, the interior crew could not find the fire. Capt. 55 told crews to back out as the fire was likely burning above them. Around that time, he also requested a second RIT and two additional ambulances to be dispatched. EMS operations were switched to EMS Ops 1. As the heat became more intense, a working fire was officially declared even though the fire wasn't found. Command requested an additional aerial and RIT team which brought in Ladder 3 from the city of Reading and a third RIT team. As Ladder 10 set up, a manpower pool was started in front of the ladder. A second-alarm was struck, bringing in a fourth RIT team. A special request was made for Rehab and an air unit. When crews got to the roof, they realized that the whole roof was concrete. Many ground ladders were also placed and multiple firefighters went to the roof to work on opening it up. Ladder 3 from the city set up on the "D" side of the structure. Western Berks Ladder 18 set up on the "A/D" corner of the building. Crews used sledges to open holes and vent the roof. Multiple lines were stretched into the front door on the "A" side as well as two lines stretched to the garage on the "A/B" corner. To make easier access, crews cut open the garage doors near the "A/B"
corner to vent. As the parking lot of the building was filled up by fire trucks, second-alarm apparatus were told to stage on Bernville Road. Due to the amount of apparatus, fire police from multiple companies as well as two traffic units were dispatched to help with traffic control on the major route. Fire Police Capt. 64 had initial command of the fire police operations. As crews opened more holes in the roof, interior firefighters finally found fire near the "A/B" corner of the structure. By this point, smoke was coming out from all four sides of the 25,000-sq.-ft. building. Engine 55 pulled its bumper lines to the front door in addition to its crosslays. Rescue 11 was set up on Bernville Rd. as an air unit filling cylinders until Mt. Aetna Air 28 arrived. Rescue 11 continued to assist with filling cylinders after Air 28 arrived. As smoke seemed to billow out of the building faster than ever, the building was evacuated, evac tones were sent across all radios, and air horns blew to get everyone out of the building. Companies conducted par and tried to regroup for another push. Venting continued as crews broke the windows on the front of the building. Command requested a fifth RIT team, bringing Mt. Penn Rescue 1 in to assist. More ambulances were also dispatched to the scene. Cover companies were established across the area. Special requests for many apparatus were also made. Deputy 29 at the rear of the structure requested multiple units as fire moved towards the "B/C" corner. Engine 13 preformed a reverse lay, pulling a five-inch to Ladder 10 before driving down Bernville Rd. to the next hydrant. Just after the five-inch was charged, crews had a flashover in a room near the front door. Crews quickly moved multiple lines into position to extinguish the fire in the room from the exterior. As crews went to the roof again, a third-alarm was struck and the entire third-alarm assignment was directed to the rear of the building. As the third-alarm units were arriving, a second evacuation of the building commenced. Evac tones went across radios again as a minor collapse occurred on the "D" side of the building. Western Berks EMS Squad arrived to assist with further EMS operations. A total of three firefighters were transported for smoke inhalation as well other minor injuries. Firefighters opened up the rear garages with saws to
The fire flashed over on the "A" side shortly after crews evacuated the building.
try and vent more smoke. Fire then blew out of a roof vent near the rear of the structure. A ladder crew spotted the flames. The fire through the roof died, but two Aerials opened up on the roof to prevent flames from shooting out again. Crews in the rear geared up to go in and try to knock down some fire. They stretched a line into the building but even with a TIC, crews could find nothing and backed out. Fire continued to rage
through the building for hours and was finally placed under control at 6:00 A.M. Local and state police fire marshals are investigating the fire, as well as ATF. The cause has not yet been determined but the fire marshal reported that it was most likely accidental. Nearly 20 companies helped battle the blaze, coming from as far away as Mt. Aetna. Crews in the rear geared up to go in and try to knock down some fire. They stretched a line into the build-
ing but even with a TIC, crews could find nothing and backed out. Fire continued to rage through the building for hours and was placed under control by 6 am. Local and state police fire marshals are investigating as well as ATF. The cause has not yet been determined but The fire marshal says it is likely accidental. Nearly 20 companies helped battle the blaze, from as far as Mt. Aetna. - LUCAS RICHARDSON