Fire dept. sued for response in Pa. plant fire

Suit claims that proper efforts weren't made to save plant, accuses FD of using burning plant as 'controlled burn structure fire'


UNION CITY, Pa. — The owner of a Pennsylvania furniture plant leveled by fire in December is suing the local borough and its volunteer fire department.

Carl Boone's suit claims that the fire department did not "act with a sense of urgency" when it responded to the Dec. 2 fire at the Ethan Allen Interiors Inc. plant, according to the Erie Times-News.

The Union City Volunteer Fire Department learned of the building's fire-suppression system, the suit claims, during a November 2010 tour, but it failed to charge or operate it during the fire.

It also says the department's command told the 24 other responding departments not to assist in suppressing the flames, "despite their willingness to fight the fire."

"There was a predetermined decision by the Union City Fire Department that if the building ever caught on fire, Union City Fire Department would not attempt to extinguish the fire but would instead operate as a 'controlled burn structure fire,'" the suit alleges.

But Union City Fire Chief Robert Wolf said that the fire had become so large that the first firefighters trying to enter the building pulled out after encountering heavy flames.

The lawsuit also claims that two individuals not authorized to be in the building set off the fire while cutting metal with a blowtorch and that they were stealing metal to sell for scrap.

But fire investigators said that plant workers accidentally started the fire with torches. It was fueled by decades of sawdust packed between floors and into walls.

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