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Two Dead, One Critically Burned in Crenshaw Blaze

On Friday, January 16, 2009 at 1:03 AM, 9 Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, 4 LAFD Rescue Ambulances, 5 Arson Units, 2 EMS Battalion Captains, 1 Battalion Chief Officer Command Team and 1 Division Chief Officer Command Team, a total of 64 Los Angeles Fire Department personnel under the direction of Battalion Chief Ralph Ramirez, responded to a Civilian Fatality Structure Fire at Continue reading Two Dead, One Critically Burned in Crenshaw Blaze

Mesa Arizona fire station to be accelerated: Long response times prompt move to start building this year

As construction of homes has expanded into southeast Mesa during the last decade, residents living near Elliot and Signal Butte roads have coped with waiting on fire and emergency crews sometimes nearly three times longer than the recommended national average. Continue reading Mesa Arizona fire station to be accelerated: Long response times prompt move to start building this year

Two Philadelphia Firefighters Injured, One Critically

A section of a warehouse roof collapsed during a fire in Northeast Philadelphia late last night, injuring two veteran firefighters as they fell 20 feet to the hard ground.

The blaze broke out shortly before 10 p.m. at an auto shop tucked inside an industrial complex on the 4800 block of Wingate Street in the city’s Holmesburg section.

Firefighters Bob Underwood, 47, and Raymond Rajchel, 54, ascended to the roof to cut out a hole for ventilation, said Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers.

“This roof seemed solid enough. It was covered with asbestos and cement,” Ayers said. “But when they cut it, it gave way.”

Underwood, a 23-year-veteran, was able to break his fall. Rajchel, a 34-year-veteran, landed hard and cracked several bones.

The firefighters were rushed to Frankford Torresdale Hospital. Underwood was treated and able to walk out of the emergency room with his wife, Ayers said.

Rajchel spent most of Thursday in surgery as doctors worked to repair fractures in his arm and ribs, Ayers said.

The blaze, which threw off thick clouds of heavy smoke, was under control in 22 minutes, Ayers said.

It may have been sparked by a battery pack that had been misused and left plugged in, Ayers said.

“We found several violations at the site,” Ayers said, adding the shop was also missing required licences and zoning permits.

West Coast 911 firefighting news source – The Philadelphia Inquirer

Massachusetts Firefighters saved a piece of local Red Sox lore yesterday

An outside section of Salem Diner known by regulars as “Pesky’s Corner” caught fire at 11:30 a.m. by a contractor removing screws with a grind saw, fire Deputy Chief Brian Harrington said.

Firefighters quelled the small blaze, which could have been much worse had winds been moving in the other direction.

“We’re lucky the winds didn’t hamper in any way, (the section on fire) was not on the windward side,” Harrington said.

The section of Salem Diner that resembles a Streamliner railcar is a hangout of former Sox shortstop, coach and manager Johnny Pesky.

Pesky, 89, is a frequent customer of the diner along with a close group of friends. Pesky and company have been frequenting the diner for a decade after their previous hangout in Swampscott closed. Their area of Salem Diner was dubbed “Pesky’s Corner.”

The name is familiar with another Pesky namesake, Pesky’s Pole, the right field foul pole at Fenway Park.

Firefighters learned of the storied nook by customers who had been inside when the fire started.

“They said, ‘You saved Pesky’s Corner,’ that’s where he sits, at the end of the building,” Harrington said.

Responding firefighters opened up the section of the diner and found “quite a bit of fire,” according to Harrington.

A spark or hot piece of the sawed-off screw ignited the building’s framing. Firefighters brought in two lines, one to the diner’s basement and another outside. The fire was knocked down within minutes, but firefighters were on scene for almost an hour checking for hot spots.

The health department responded as protocol, but Harrington said he expects the diner to reopen today or tomorrow.

“Structurally, it’s OK,” he said.

West Coast 911 firefighting news source – The Salem News

Eastern Kentucky Firefighters Accused of Arson

Two current and one former Eastern Kentucky firefighters are accused of allegedly creating more work for firefighters by setting blazes in Pike and Knox counties.

Christopher C. Little, 30, of Pike County, James Adam Yeager, 20, of Knox County and Walter D. Brown, 23, also of Knox, were arrested and charged with arson after they allegedly started fires in their home counties this week, the Kentucky Division of Forestry said Friday.

The fires could have benefited Little and Yeager financially by creating more work for them. The two were employed part-time by the state and paid on an hourly basis.

Both have been dismissed.

Brown was an emergency firefighter last year before his dismissal, according to a Kentucky State Police press release.

“We don’t know the reasons why people start arson fires,” said Leah MacSwords, spokeswoman for the Division of Forestry. “I have a hard time believing people start fires so they have to do the backbreaking work to put out the fire. That can’t be the only motivation.”

MacSwords said the state Division of Forestry, which employs about 400 firefighters a year, hires and trains part-timers primarily for the fire seasons: Feb. 15 through April 30 and Oct. 1 through Dec. 15, MacSwords said.

Little, who had worked for the state since October, was arrested early Friday after the Division of Forestry received several calls from residents in Hellier in Pike County who allegedly saw him setting the blaze, MacSwords said. Forestry officials immediately notified the Kentucky State Police post in Pikeville.

“We were able to get there and take care of it quickly,” she said.

This week’s arrests aren’t the first time firefighters have been charged with setting fires in Kentucky.

In August 2005, six volunteer firefighters in Lincoln County were charged with torching a historic, unused school building and two unoccupied houses. The county fire chief said the six may have been seeking a thrill or creating something to do.

Later that year, two seasonal firefighters with the state Division of Forestry were charged with setting wildfires in Bell County.

And in 2006 in Laurel County, police charged four men — one a volunteer firefighter and three former firefighters — with setting a series of blazes over two years that burned hay bales and structures.

There have been similar cases elsewhere. Officials in Pennsylvania are pushing for psychological screening for prospective firefighters as a way to identify those who might start fires.

Little was being held Friday in the Pike County jail. His bond had not yet been set and details about his arraignment were not available.

Yeager, who has worked for the state since February, was arrested late Thursday after forestry officials received a tip that a person was starting fires in Coldstone. It was later found that it was an emergency firefighter.

Yeager is charged with willfully setting fire to land he does not own, a Class D felony that carries a possible one- to five-year prison sentence. It is not clear how many acres were burned.

The arraignment for Yeager is set for Monday in Knox District Court.

Brown was arrested after a tipster reported seeing someone suspicious after a fire started in the Valentine Branch area of Knox County.

In Kentucky this year, 1,394 wildland fires have been reported by the state Division of Forestry, more than 60 percent of them attributed to arson. But it’s rare for firefighters to be accused of setting them, MacSwords said.

“We’ve never denied there’s a possibility that the … people who work for us have set fires,” MacSwords said. “But, I don’t want the actions of these … individuals to reflect on the dedication of all the other hundreds of firefighters that are out there. They are risking their lives …and breathing a lot of smoke to protect the people of Kentucky.”

West Coast 911 Firefighter News Source – Lexington News