8 firefighters, 2 residents hospitalized after garage fire spreads into Pa. home
Firefighters entered the home “with virtually no firefighting equipment available at the time” to save a resident trapped inside the home
By Michelle Merlin and Kayla Dwyer
The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.)
BERKS COUNTY, Pa. — A Washington Township, Berks County, home was destroyed Sunday night, its two residents and eight firefighters sent to the hospital, in what was initially called in as a garage fire, authorities say.
Crews arrived at the 500 block of Lenape Road shortly before 5:30 p.m. to find the attached garage completely consumed by fire, smoke billowing into the house, according to state police at Reading.
Marie Elana Minford was outside the home, telling firefighters her husband, Richard, was trapped inside. Both are in their 70s, according to state police.
Eastern Berks Fire Department Chief Mike Mutter upgraded the call to a working fire with entrapment, calling in tankers and manpower from other Berks, Montgomery and Lehigh County fire companies, according to a news release from a department spokesman Paul Bartlett.
Before those extra resources arrived, Eastern Berks firefighters entered the home to find Richard Minford — “with virtually no firefighting equipment available at the time,” state police say.
Unbeknownst to the firefighters, Marie Minford followed them inside. Conditions in the home quickly forced them back outside, some having to jump from the second-floor window, according to state police.
Crews then arrived with safety equipment, allowing firefighters to rescue the Minfords and send them to Lehigh Valley Hospital, where their condition is unknown at this time.
Eight firefighters went to the hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation, dehydration, heat exhaustion, chest pain and asthmatic issues, but all are expected to fully recover, state police say.
The roof of the home partially collapsed, presenting a total loss, authorities say.
State police in Reading are still investigating the cause of the fire, which originated in the garage. Anyone with information is asked to contact the barracks.
©2019 The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.)