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Sixth Alarm Fire Devastates Front Street
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By Fire Chief Demo User
October 11, 2005

The quiet summer night was shattered on Saturday when the Philipsburg Fire Department was alerted for a building fire with possible entrapment on the 100 block of North Front Street in downtown Philipsburg. Assistant Department Chief Tim Townsend arrived on scene and advised heavy fire showing from Side C of the building and requested the box upgraded to a second alarm. Chief Townsend assumed command and

while assessing the scene, by-standers advised tenants were unaccounted for and screaming could be heard emanating from the second floor apartments. Chief Townsend requested the first-in truck crews from Reliance Fire Company to gain access from the Front Street side (Side A) to begin search and rescue operations. As the first alarm units arrived on scene and went to work, Chief Townsend requested a third alarm with additional truck companies. As the fire raged into the night sky, the heat and high humidity began to take its toll on the interior crews. Incident Command was notified of a fire fighter down on Front Street. EMS was contacted to report to Side A when moments later a call went out for a second fire fighter down. With building conditions rapidly deteriorating, Incident Command requested all interior crews to vacate for PAR. A priority radio message went out from the Side C Officer that PAR was not met and there was possibly a fire fighter down inside the fire building. A RIT crew was activated to begin a search and rescue. After Incident Command confirmed the name of the missing fire fighter, it was determined the missing man was one of the fire fighters who succumbed to the heat and humidity. With all fire fighters accounted for, the attack switched to exterior operations. The blaze eventually went to six alarms before the fire was declared under control. Five fire fighters were transported to Philipsburg Area Hospital for smoke inhalation and heat exhaustion. All fire fighters were treated and released. One apartment resident suffered smoke inhalation and a second resident suffered burns to the face. The residents were also treated and released at the Philipsburg Area Hospital. The blaze damaged seven businesses and about 30 apartments on Front and Presqueisle Streets. Twelve families were left homeless. A total of 24 fire companies and 4 ambulance companies responded to the 57-11 fire box.

Units: E11, E12, TK12, R11, Q12
Mutual Aid: Centre County Units ER5-14, T5-16, ER9-14, E13-10, E15-10, ET15-15, R15-18 Clearfield County Units T1, E4, UT4, E5-1, ET6, T6, TA7, SQ7, R8-2, E14, ET16, E17, ER17, E18, ET18, SQ18, E22-1, E22-2, E23-1, SQ23, TA23, ER24, R25, T25, E74, Ambulance 155 and Haz-Mat 10 for rehab. Jefferson County: T1-11 transfered to Clearfield to cover the boro and Lawrence Township.

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