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Modified 12-Nov-19
Created 7-Feb-13
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On February 4th firefighters battled a 4-alarm fire that injured five firefighters when the building collapsed around them.
During the after-work rush hour Engine 23 was sent out on a silent alarm to investigate smoke in the area of Pennsylvania Avenue and Franklin Street. While enroute Fire Communications upgraded the assignment to a full box and reported it as the Penn Lumber Company at that location.
Engine 23 arrived within a few minutes and reported heavy smoke showing from a 3-story brick building adjacent to the lumber yard. As they were leading off and other companies were arriving Battalion Chief 6 arrived on location, took command and made it a working fire. Truck 10 arrived and reported heavy fire showing on side B. As other units made their way to the rear they encountered limited access and reported heavy fire extending into the rear buildings in the 100 year old lumber yard. To the rear were a large public park area and a large church with no streets or alleyways.
A minute later at 17:47 Battalion Chief 6 ordered a second alarm due to the heavy fire load in the building. About 3 minutes later companies were making their way into the building, knocking down some of the fire showing when Battalion Chief 6 saw heavy fire above them on the second floor and then ordered an evacuation. At this time companies were still trying to access and bring a water supply to the rear to set up ladder pipes. He then asked for the third alarm.
At 18:04 companies were exiting the building and out in the front when a major collapse occurred bringing down the front wall and roof onto the sidewalk and into the side of Truck 16 and fell on top of the men outside. Battalion Chief 6 announced a “Mayday” and asked for a fourth alarm as firefighters scrambled to begin digging through the debris to rescue the trapped and stunned men. Two men were trapped on side B and three were injured in front of the building. One firefighter was knocked off of Truck 16 when the front wall of bricks came down and crashed into the side of the truck. Within a few minutes all of them were located and removed to medic units where they were transported to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center. None of them had any major injuries and all were released by the following morning.
Firefighters continued to pour water into the burning pile of rubble and entered the building on exposure D to extinguish the fire that extended into it.
The fire was brought under control in about 3 hours. Heavy equipment was brought in to tear down the remaining walls that were in dangerous condition and pull apart the pile of rubble to finish extinguishing the fire buried beneath it.
Fire and Police Arson were on the scene to determine the cause.

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