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Pa. FF treated for heat exhaustion after battling school fire

An Allentown firefighter was transported to a local hospital after working a fire at an elementary school that destroyed mobile classrooms


Firefighters battle a fire at on Monday, July 26, 2021, at Union Terrace Elementary School in Allentown.


Andrew Scott
The Morning Call

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — A Monday afternoon fire destroyed two trailers housing four classrooms at Union Terrace Elementary School in Allentown.

One firefighter was taken to St. Luke’s Hospital-Allentown after suffering heat exhaustion while battling the 6 p.m. blaze at the school in the 1900 block of Union Street, Allentown fire Capt. John Christopher said.

The fire quickly attracted nearby residents’ attention.

“I was walking my dogs at the park next to the school,” neighbor David Staas said. “I looked over and saw a porta-toilet and steps on the portable wooden buildings on fire. I called 911 and was told someone else already called. There were other people out there.”

Firefighters arrived within minutes to find flames engulfing a wooden deck surrounding the trailers behind the main building, Christopher said.

“It was quite a bit of fire,” Christopher said.

The flames quickly spread to the trailers themselves as a large plume of smoke rose into the sky, visible from more than a mile away.

Former Lehigh County Commissioner Michael Schware was at his 16th Street home several blocks from the school one of his daughters attended.

“My wife and daughters left to go to Home Depot,” Schware said. “They saw the smoke coming from that end of Union Street, so they went to check it out and called me. I walked down there with my dog and saw the fire. By then, the firefighters were there and breaking the window of the front door to the main building to gain access. Everything seemed confined to the rear, in those trailers housing temporary classrooms.”

Firefighters had the fire under control in about a half-hour, saving the main building, Christopher said.

Allentown School Board President Nancy Wilt declined comment Monday evening, saying she didn’t have enough information about the fire. A fire marshal is investigating.

According to state data, about 700 students attend the school, which was built in 1955.


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