5 firefighters hospitalized in Pa. blaze

Union president says firefighting efforts were slowed due to low staffing

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Five Pa. firefighters were hospitalized and four others fell ill after battling a large fire that burned six homes Thursday.

Crews fought the fire for more than four hours before the flames were contained, according to the Morning Call. The hospitalized firefighters suffered dehydration and heat exhaustion, fire union President John Stribula said.

Stribula said firefighting efforts were slowed down due to low staffing. With provisions in the city's new department contract, only 25 firefighters are on duty instead of the previous 30. Although 25 is the mere minimum under the provision, budget cuts make it the typical number of people on shift.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but is suspected to have started from an electric coffeemaker.

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