Firefighters dodge exploding fireworks while dousing Parkwood house blaze


Neigh­bors in Park­wood ex­per­i­enced a Bizarro World ver­sion of Christ­mas in Ju­ly on Monday.

They might want to call it “In­de­pend­ence Day in Janu­ary.”

That af­ter­noon, a massive fire broke out in a row­house on the 3600 block of Gene­see Drive, ig­nit­ing what mul­tiple sources have de­scribed as a hoard of fire­works in­side the prop­erty, for­cing fire­fight­ers to dodge ex­plo­sions as they tried to sup­press the flames.

Two fire­fight­ers were hos­pit­al­ized as a res­ult of the blaze, as was a wo­man they res­cued from the fully en­gulfed house.

Ac­cord­ing to Bill Gault, pres­id­ent of Loc­al 22 of the In­ter­na­tion­al As­so­ci­ation of Fire Fight­ers, one mem­ber of En­gine 22 suffered burns to the back of his neck, re­ceived treat­ment at Temple Uni­versity Hos­pit­al and was re­leased that day. A mem­ber of Lad­der 34 suffered heat ex­haus­tion and was held overnight for ob­ser­va­tion at Aria Health-Tor­res­dale be­fore his re­lease on Tues­day.

A Phil­adelphia Fire De­part­ment spokes­man did not dis­close the name or age of the res­cued wo­man, who was taken to an area hos­pit­al in stable con­di­tion, re­portedly for treat­ment of smoke in­hal­a­tion and/or heat ex­haus­tion. Her up­dated con­di­tion is not known.

The blaze was re­por­ted to the city’s 911 sys­tem at 1:35 p.m. Lad­der 31, at Comly and Academy roads, was first at the scene. Fire­fight­ers im­me­di­ately saw “heavy fire” in the house, said Ex­ec­ut­ive Chief Richard Dav­is­on. The home is two stor­ies, brick, and at the end of a row.

The flames were de­clared un­der con­trol about one hour later.

Dav­is­on ac­know­ledged that fire­fight­ers re­por­ted the pres­ence of fire­works. The city’s fire mar­shal con­tin­ues to in­vest­ig­ate the re­port along with the cause and ori­gin of the blaze, he said.

A source with­in the fire de­part­ment told the North­east Times that re­sponse to the fire by the nearest en­gine com­pany, En­gine 22 at Comly and Academy roads, was delayed as the unit re­spon­ded to a sim­ul­tan­eous med­ic­al run on Bar­bary Road. At 1:38 p.m., Med­ic 20 be­came avail­able for the med­ic­al run, free­ing En­gine 22 to change dir­ec­tions en route and go to Gene­see Drive.

Med­ic 20 later went to the fire scene and trans­por­ted one of the in­jured fire­fight­ers to the hos­pit­al.

Des­pite the di­ver­sion, En­gine 22 was the first en­gine com­pany to ar­rive at the fire scene as Lad­der 31 already was mak­ing for­cible entry in­to the burn­ing prop­erty, the source said.

Ac­cord­ing to Google Maps, Bar­bary Road is 1.1 miles and four minutes from the En­gine 22 fire­house, while Gene­see Drive is 1.4 miles and five minutes. The Bar­bary Road and Gene­see Drive loc­a­tions are 1.3 miles and five minutes apart.

Au­thor­it­ies con­tin­ue to in­vest­ig­ate the leg­al­ity of the fire­works re­portedly found in the burn­ing house. Un­der Pennsylvania law, it is il­leg­al for res­id­ents of the state to sell, buy, pos­sess or use so-called “con­sumer” or “dis­play” fire­works without a per­mit is­sued by the loc­al mu­ni­cip­al­ity. The law does not ap­ply to hand-held or ground-based “spark­ing devices.” 

Phil­adelphia po­lice re­ferred a re­port­er’s ques­tions about the case to the fed­er­al Bur­eau of Al­co­hol, To­bacco, Fire­arms and Ex­plos­ives. The Times is await­ing com­ment from an ATF spokes­man.

One po­lice source said that in­vest­ig­at­ors found a “room-full” of fire­works in the house, while one fire de­part­ment source said that the ATF “took two vans of fire­works” from the scene. ••


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