On Saturday, September 14, 2002 at 16:30, firefighters working at the fire station noticed smoke coming out of the second story of one of the community’s landmark brick buildings, built in 1968. Simultaneously, a 911 call from a cell phone caller was received reporting the same emergency. The Fellows Club Volunteer Fire Department in Conneautville, Pennsylvania faced one of their largest fires since the 1990’s. Newman’s Furniture Store, which had been out of the furniture retail business for a couple years and was diagonally located to the front of the fire station, sustained heavy damage due to the fire.
Two aerial units, eleven fire and EMS departments, four water supply locations, and several hours later, the fire was controlled. A small addition built in the 1950’s was saved as well as nearby homes and businesses. The biggest difficulty was the second story windows were all boarded up providing a challenge for firefighters to ventilate.
Initial entry teams attempted to attack the fire on the first floor and had with them a Thermal Imaging Camera which proved extremely effective and life saving. Firefighters were able to advance through the store that they had never been in to where the fire was. The TIC showed the second floor had collapsed onto the first in the right rear corner of the building and the ceiling temperature registered 1100 degrees Fahrenheit above them at which time they immediately exited the building and began an exterior attack operation on the fire.
Photo Courtesy of Allen W. Clark, 1st Assistant Fire Chief, Fellows Club Volunteer Fire Department and Ambulance Service, Conneautville, PA
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