Pa. firefighter hospitalized with heat exhaustion


By Mike Hoover
The York Daily Record (Pennsylvania)

WEST YORK, Pa. — One firefighter was taken to the hospital, and three others injured while fighting a fire in West York today.

The firefighter taken to a local hospital was treated for heat exhaustion. Three others were treated at the scene for minor injuries, fire officials said.

Five buildings were damaged in a fire on South Highland Avenue. The fire also displaced at least eight people.

More than 50 firefighters from area departments responded to the fire, which has been ruled accidental, fire officials said. It started in the second floor of one of the damaged homes, according to fire officials at the fire scene.

By 3:35 p.m., the West York fire was mostly out.

The fire response had gone to three alarms so crews could be rotated out

and avoid suffering from the heat from the fire and temperatures in the high 80s today.

During its height, heavy black smoke could be seen from miles away.

The fire was reported at 11:46 a.m. at 3 S. Highland Ave., according to York County 911. The fire burned a first-floor tattoo parlor, which neighbors said recently went out of business, and the apartments above.

The fire spread to 5 S. Highland Ave., and crews attempted to save 7 S. Highland.

At least three ladder trucks shot water on the fire, streets were closed off, and crowds gathered at Highland and Market Street to watch the commotion. Highland is closed to traffic, and Market is restricted.

Five buildings were damaged in a fire on South Highland Avenue. The fire also displaced at least eight people. More than 50 firefighters from area departments responded to the fire, which has been ruled accidental, fire officials said. It started i

Next to 9 S. Highland, 11 children and staff members from the Rod Key Tech Childcare were evacuated because of smoke and for safety reasons.

Deb and Don Robinson, who have rented an apartment for 12 years at 3 S. Highland, were both working at the time of the blaze. Deb said she was alerted by friends and family. She could see the smoke as she drove up Carlisle Avenue.

She said two cats were saved, Sheba and Tazz, but she's not sure about Pepper the lovebird.

Daughter Brandy Bell said when she arrived, no one knew the location of her brother, Travis Robinson, 17, who lives at the apartment with her parents. She was concerned he might be inside, and she had to be restrained from going in. They later learned he was at Hersheypark.

"There wouldn't have been someone big enough to stop me if someone didn't say Travis is fine," she said.

She said her parents are devastated and lost years of their lives from the trauma.

Alvenia Saxon, who also lives across street, said she was in her home when she heard a commotion outside. She looked out and saw 3 S. Highland engulfed in flames. By the time firefighters arrived, it was just too far to do anything, she said. "I just prayed that the mother got out of there."

Saxon and other neighbors said that a woman and her 9-year-old daughter lived in one of the apartments.

Shortly after, the woman came running to the scene and collapsed on the curb. Her neighbors offered comfort, and she is now receiving help from the Red Cross. She declined comment.

Brittany Sload-Leight, who owns 7 Highland, rented to friend Shannon O'Malley. She said O'Malley was not home at the time of the fire. Sload-Leight called her to tell her that firefighters got her dog out, a boxer named Allie. She was in tears when she heard the news, Sload-Leight said.

Jeff Seitz, owner of The Other Place across the street, said he was opening the bar for his first customer when he was alerted to the fire.

"There were flames coming out of the roof, and the windows were blowing out from the heat. It went so quickly I couldn't believe it."

He was able to reassure one of the residents that her the two cats had escaped the fire.

His business since has lost power.

"We understand we got everyone out safely, including a dog and cats," said Shawn Mauck, West York borough council president.

Those people displaced are waiting at the West York fire station. At least four will need other housing, said C.R. Lloyd, emergency response manager for the borough.

Copyright 2008, The York Daily Record (Pennsylvania)

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