‘Dangerous call': Pa. firefighters rescue 5 trapped on 3rd floor using ground ladders
Crews used two ladders; they could not use an aerial ladder truck because of how the trucks arrived and other obstacles, Wilkes-Barre Fire Chief Jay Delaney said
By Bob Kalinowski
The Citizens’ Voice
WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — Eleven people were displaced and three cats died as a result of a blaze that broke out Monday morning at a New Hancock Street apartment building.
Five people, including two children — a boy, 3, and girl, 5 — were rescued from the third floor.
Tim Trupp, 33, said it seemed like his family waited a long time for help as smoke from the fire, which began on the first floor, infiltrated his apartment.
“I was hanging out the window. It was a while. I was trying to get my children down to them,” Trupp said.
Wilkes-Barre Fire Chief Jay Delaney said that fire crews had to use one ground ladder to get onto the front porch roof and another ground ladder to reach the third-floor windows to get the trapped victims.
Because of the way the trucks arrived and other obstacles, crews could not use the aerial ladder truck to reach the trapped victims, the chief said.
“These decisions made are split decisions. It was a tedious call. It was a dangerous call. It was not easy to do what was done today. The firefighters risked their lives to save those people on the third floor,” Delaney said. “It’s not often you have to use two separate ground ladders to get to the third floor.”
The fire was reported around 9:15 a.m. at 273-275 New Hancock St., a multi-unit apartment building.
Wilkes-Barre Fire Crews were on another call at the time at a high-rise apartment building, so Plains Twp.'s fire department was called to assist with other Wilkes-Barre crews. The Kingston-Forty Fort Fire Department was already on an automatic response with a rapid intervention team.
Upon arrival, firefighters were met by heavy fire and smoke, Delaney said.
“They had a lot to get done. There was a lot to do,” the chief said. “They all worked like one fire department.”
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Wilkes-Barre fire Capt. Francis Evanko, the city’s fire inspector, ruled the fire was accidental due to an electrical issue in a first-floor closet. The property was posted as unsafe for human habitation after the inspection.
The American Red Cross assisted the displaced tenants in finding lodging.
Delaney said the fire could have been a lot worse and he was happy there were no civilian injuries.
“They train for this,” Delaney said of his fire crews. “The firefighters are experts in what they do.”
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