Just after 6:30pm on a very hot Sunday evening, the West Grove Fire Company was dispatched to back-to-back fire calls. The second call turned out to be a house fire that resulted in serious damage; less serious was the fire in Franklin Township.
NEW GARDEN TOWNSHIP
The house fire was on Watson Mill Road in New Garden, as WGFC units were called to assist the Avondale Fire Company for a dwelling reported on fire. With fire company members already at the fire house, response came quickly for Ladder 22, Engines 22-2 and 22-1, and Tanker 22. In addition to West Grove, units from Hockessin, Kennett Square, and Longwood were alerted.
First responding units were advised that a very upset caller reported a fire in a bedroom. Chief 25 (Longwood) arrived first to report fire showing from the A and D sides (meaning the front and right sides of the home) of a ranch-style one-story home with a walk out basement. He directed the first in Engine (Avondale Engine 23-1) to make room for the Ladder and stretch attack lines to the dwelling and the first in Ladder (Hockessin) to come in the driveway.
Also arriving was Tanker 23 which provided the initial water supply for the Engine. Crews made an aggressive fire attack through the front door, while Ladder 19's crew began to ladder the building. Arriving crews from Ladder 22 went to the roof using Ladder 19's aerial to cut a ventilation hole to help take heat out of the structure and assisted in laddering the building and fighting fire, assisting the crews from Hockessin. Tanker 22 arrived to supplement the water supply, as additional hose lines were stretched to the residence.
Also arriving was Engine 22-2 which was instructed to lay a supply line from the bottom of the hill from Wilkinson Drive up to the fire scene. This layout of five inch hose was 1,500 feet of supply line. Next arriving Engine 22-1 then laid up Wilkinson Drive to a fire hydrant. Having a water supply is important in case Tanker water was not sufficient (ultimately this 1800' supply line was not utilized as the 7,500 gallons on the scene -Engine and Tankers- was sufficient for this fire fight).
With Engines and Ladders arriving from multiple companies, there was a large turn out of personnel. This made it easy to rotate crews who where feeling the effects of 96 degree temperatures and high humidity. Crews from area ambulances and medic units were busy checking fire fighters after they rotated out. One firefighter was treated for heat-related issues, but was released at the scene. Early in the incident, a special dispatch was made for the Rehab Unit from Good Fellowship Ambulance in West Chester -- they responded but ultimately were recalled.
Fire fighting crews made a good stop to the fire, but not before it significantly damaged several rooms at one end of the residence. Crews cleared the scene around 830pm.
FIRST CALL -- FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP
The initial dispatch for West Grove Fire Company came four minutes earlier than the house fire. That call was for a gas grill on fire on Meadow Wood Lane, off Appleton Road, just below Kemblesville . A propane gas grill was reported on fire, but located away from the residence. Engine 22-3 responded from the fire station on Route 896 just a short distance away -- allowing the balance of the WGFC response to be redirected to the house fire on Watson Mill Road.
WGFC Assistant Chief 22-A arrived to find fire around a gas grill behind the residence and directed the Engine to deploy an attack line to extinguish the blaze. Engine 22-3's crew pulled the bumper line and made fast work of the gas grill. The crew moved quickly to get the Engine back in service, and, a few minutes later, left Meadow Wood Lane and responded directly to the house fire.
All West Grove units were cleaned up and back in service from both calls just after 9:00pm.