Fire Fighters See Plane Go Down, Respond to Blaze
The crews of Engine 1 and Rescue 61 of the Pembroke Pines, Fla., Fire Department were returning to quarters after a morning training exercise when they saw a twin-engine plane flying erratically and descending rapidly with one engine smoking. The plane disappeared from sight and a large cloud of smoke and flame erupted from a nearby residential district.
Lieutenant Salvatore Magliocco of Engine 1 ordered his units to respond to the area where the plane went down and in notifying the fire department dispatcher of his action at 11:16 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 23, he requested that additional companies be dispatched to the location. The weather was overcast and rainy and the temperature was 80 degrees.
Nearby Perry Airport control tower notified fire department dispatchers in Pembroke Pines and Miramar at 11:17 a.m. that a plane was down somewhere south of the airport.
As Engine 1 and Rescue 61 neared the crash site at 11:18 a.m., it was evident that it was outside of their municipal boundaries. Realizing that this was an apparent disaster situation, Magliocco ordered his units to continue.
Residence set afire
A minute later, Engine 1 and Rescue 61 approached the crash site from the west and saw mass destruction and panic. Magliocco’s initial report told of a large fire caused by an aircraft that had crashed into a private residence with smoke billowing and large volumes of flames enveloping the entire front.
He was met by off-duty Lieutenant Norman Pariseau of the combat division, who had seen the smoke and flames from his home a few blocks away. Pariseau established a command post and had Magliocco lay 2 1/2-inch attack lines and stretch two 3-inch supply lines to the closest hydrant.
While Paramedics Marvin Hart, Robert Holloway and Dale Waddle were assisting in the placement of the 2 1/2-inch attack lines, it was reported that five persons were still in the house. Hart and Holloway immediately entered the rear of the residence and began a systematic search. Finding the house unoccupied, they reported their findings to Magliocco. The occupants left the house unharmed through the rear door seconds after the crash. Pembroke Pines Engine 2 and Rescue 62 arrived at the crash site at 11:21 a.m. and were directed by Pariseau to stretch a 2 1/2-inch line and protect the exposure on the west side of the crash.
Two Miramar fire units arrived on the scene at 11:24 a.m. Because of spectators and police cars, the streets were congested in such a manner that approach to the crash site was impossible. After trying several times to have the area cleared, Miramar Engine 2 handlaid 1200 feet of 2 1/2-inch supply line to their Engine 3, which put three 1 1/2-inch lines in operation, one line to protect the exposure on the east side of the crash, one line to assist the 2 1/2-inch attack line operated by the Pines unit in the extinguishment of the involved residence, and one to be used as a foam line to cover the aircraft wreckage.
The crash, which could have been a potential disaster, was brought under control at 11:34 and the bulk of the fire was extinguished 15 minutes after the first units arrived.
Extra load of fuel
During the investigation, it was learned that this aircraft, a D-18 Beechcraft, had taken on 580 gallons of high octane fuel in expandable storage tanks at Perry Airport. FAA officials estimate that there was a total of 1000 gallons of high octane fuel in the aircraft.
An observer at the airport reported that a pilot and two passengers boarded the aircraft. Upon takeoff, the plane developed engine trouble in one engine, causing the engine to stall. The pilot managed to restart the engine and even though the aircraft appeared to be tail-heavy, he proceeded to take off, using 2800 feet of the 3000-foot runway. The plane soon started descending over a five-block area, missing homes and power lines. It then clipped a tree, dropped an engine at the base of the tree, pancaked into a car parked perpendicular on the front lawn of the house across the street from the tree and burst into flames.
The car parked on the front lawn took the full impact of the descending aircraft and this probably saved the lives of the occupants of the house.