Three people viewing a house for sale in York fell from a second-floor deck when it collapsed Wednesday afternoon, according to York City Fire/Rescue Services.
Chief John Senft said injuries to the three people, who were taken to York Hospital, were not life-threatening. Their names were not available at press time.
Steve Hilt, a Realtor with Jack Gaughen, said he was showing the house at 223 W. College Ave. to a woman, her daughter and her son-in-law. The three stepped onto the deck from a second-floor door to the rear of the house, he said.
“I was the last one in line — I was a step away,” Hilt said. “I didn’t believe it at first . . . I ran down and grabbed the phone and made sure they were OK. Everyone was conscious.”
He then called 911, he said.
The call came in at 5:42 p.m., according to York County 911.
Firefighters were quickly dispatched. Arriving at the red brick house, they said they found the deck’s floor had separated from the house’s exterior and fallen diagonally to the ground.
Assistant Fire Chief Edwin Hamilton said the collapse was caused by “shoddy workmanship.”
“It was not properly secured to the building,” he said. “The devices holding the deck to the building were not large enough to support that much weight.”
He added the collapse “could have been a lot worse . . . If somebody would’ve been underneath it, they would have been dead.”
The 180-year-old Lancaster County Courthouse, which had survived the Civil War and an 1886 earthquake, was reduced to its two-story brick shell by a Monday fire that authorities say was set deliberately.
Lancaster Fire Chief Chris Nunnery said the fire, reported at 5:25 a.m., was started after someone broke in through a first-floor window in the front of the courthouse. He said the fire started in a courtroom on the second floor and spread.
Nunnery declined to say whether investigators found accelerant. Flames burned through the building’s tongue and groove construction and reached quickly into the 18-foot ceilings.
Authorities don’t have a dollar amount of the damages but said the courthouse, a National Historic Landmark, is more than 50 percent damaged.The county had budgeted money to fix the windows and replace the courthouse’s slate roof this fiscal year.
“Now we have a lot more to do,” Lancaster County Administrator Steve Willis said.
A $33 million referendum to build a new courthouse is on the November ballot. Officials said the courthouse was long overdue for replacement – it had only one courtroom and no modern security features.
Robert Mills, one of the first United States-born architects, designed the courthouse in 1828. He was among the first of his trade credited with incorporating fireproof materials in his buildings. His best known work is the Washington Monument.
A Civil War skirmish involving some of Union Gen. William Sherman’s troops took place near the courthouse in February 1865.
An earlier courthouse that stood at the site was reported to have been the location of the last witchcraft trial held in the United States, in 1813, according to local historians.
“If you care about history here in the Carolinas, and for that matter, this country, this is a huge tragedy,” said Lindsay Pettus, a local historian and saw the courthouse smoking on his way to work at 8:15 a.m.
Throughout the morning, crews from eight departments worked to douse the fire on the second floor; firefighters used protective tarps to salvage court documents on the first floor. They moved as many criminal files, veterans, civil and adoption records into the middle of a room as they could, Willis said.
State officials who preserve records will begin culling through them today to determine the extent of the damage. Nunnery said he believes firefighters salvaged about 80-85 percent of them.
It’s unclear whether authorities have a suspect or a motive.
A man suspected of throwing a Molotov cocktail into the building a couple years ago has died, Nunnery said.
General session court, which includes cases of violent crimes such as rape, robbery and assault, was scheduled to start Monday morning.
“I reckon your list of suspects could be long from that,” Nunnery said.
Agents from the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms are joining Lancaster police in the investigation.
“The irony is that Sherman’s troops attempted to burn it, and it survived,” Pettus said. “And then the Charleston Earthquake of 1886. And now this, it just gives me a sick feeling.”
HORIZON CITY – A suspicious fire at a church that has drawn the ire of parishioners also has drawn the interest of the FBI and other federal agencies which are investigating the fire as a possible hate crime.The kitchen, an electronics storage room, two restrooms and a fellowship hall where the church community congregated for drinks and cake, are completely scorched. Church officials on Tuesday said they do not have insurance and the blaze caused more than $100,000 in damages.
“The church has responded in a big way. We have gotten countless volunteers out of the area and out of different churches, to come in and help us with the clean up process,” said Marco Butler, the Horizon Bible Church senior pastor. “This (rebuilding) process won’t take place anytime overnight, it’s going to be a long steady process.”
“I think with tragedy and disaster, comes a whole different level of love and community,” he said. “If it was arson, if it was a hate crime, the only thing I can really do is pray for those that have that heart. It happens, it has happened throughout history. That’s just the way it is. But out of every negative thing, there’s a positive thing.”
Horizon City Police Chief Robert Wiles said investigators still do not know what caused the blaze.
Police were dispatched to the Horizon Bible Church, 14201 McMahon, shortly before midnight on July 29. Wiles said a neighbor saw smoke coming from the roof of the church as he was driving home.Several Soccoro and Horizon City firefighters helped put out the fire, he said.
“My neighbor smelled smoke. He went around the house and saw the flame,” said Lilo Spencer, who has been a church member for 35 years. “We never expected to be like this. Nobody saw anything, nobody saw anything.”
Spencer said the people who attend the church every week are stunned and angry. Most have been interviewed by the FBI, she said.
Special Agent Andrea Simmons, a spokeswoman for El Paso FBI, said agents were initially called to the scene when the fire happened. Officials with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms are also investigating.
“We have opened an investigation to see if this is possibly a hate crime, to determine whether there is a religious aspect to the arsonist’s intent,” she said. “It may just be an arson. It may not have anything to do with trying to disrupt the church.”
On July 19, firefighters from 13 municipalities battled a raging inferno, as well as outside temperatures nearing 100 degrees, in this quiet community of Whippany in Hanover Township, N.J.
The fire, which began around 3:30 pm, originated near the center units of a six-unit townhouse structure and quickly spread to several of the units.
Three units were badly damaged or destroyed by the blaze and the remaining units received varying degrees of smoke, water or fire damage.
Fire companies kept rotating crews throughout the steamy afternoon, to give firefighters the opportunity to recuperate from the intense heat of the day and of the fire. It took crews nearly three hours to bring the fire under control. Two firefighters were transported to a nearby hospital with heat-related conditions. They were treated and released the same day.
A preliminary report by fire officials names ‘mulch under a porch’ as the fire’s most probable point of origin. A thorough investigation by local officials, in conjunction with the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office and the Morris County Sheriff’s Department Arson Squad, is underway.
Mulch fires have become a widespread area of concern for just about every fire department in the northeast in recent years. Decorative mulch has become a popular item for landscapers as well as the homeowner, to enhance one’s property. The problem lies in the fact that mulch is shredded organic matter. This organic matter, over time, starts to decompose. Water trapped underneath helps to speed up the decomposition process. This decomposition process produces heat. Once the temperature produced from within, heats the dry surface material to its kindling point, spontaneous combustion can occur and you have a fire. The general public; and probably most landscapers; have little or no knowledge of this. They tend to place the mulch around bushes and shrubs or through flower gardens that are adjacent to the house or garage. If a fire occurs, it can and most often does, involve the structure; causing loss of property and even loss of life. Spontaneous combustion is not the only problem. All too often, people don’t think when they discard a lit cigarette into the bushes or garden containing mulch, before they enter a public building. This is a growing problem now that you can no longer smoke in most public buildings in New Jersey.
It is the author’s opinion that a standard could and should be established as to a ‘safe distance requirement’ when using or placing organic mulch near or around a structure, and should furthermore be enforced under local and state building codes and fire codes. Bags of mulch should have a printed warning on them alerting the user to the potential danger of use AND storage. Landscapers should be made aware of the possibility of fire damage to a customer’s home and should be held accountable for any damages incurred by improper placement of the mulch within the “safe zone”. Fire departments throughout the country should take the opportunity of Fire Prevention Week to educate the public in their seminars, school fire awareness demonstrations, pamphlet handouts and fund drive letters; as to the potential dangers of organic mulch. The State of Virginia has begun addressing the problem with free pamphlets from the Department of Forestry. Mulch Fire Information
If even one life is saved, then it’s all worth it, because it’s happening mulch too often!
Photos and story by
Ron Johnson www.photozonfire.com
Reported on March 4, 2008…..
A four-alarm blaze in the Woodlawn area yesterday afternoon destroyed two apartment buildings in a residential neighborhood and sent five firefighters to the hospital with heat exhaustion, burns and other minor injuries, Baltimore County fire officials said. Continue reading Five firefighters injured in blaze→
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) â€” A gunman in a jacket, tie and baseball cap wordlessly opened fire inside a Wendy’s during the lunchtime rush Monday, killing a paramedic who had gone back to fetch the right toy to go with his child’s meal and wounding five others. The 60-year-old shooter then committed suicide.
he 42-year-old victim, Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue Lt. Rafael Vazquez, who was not in uniform, had met his wife and child at the restaurant during a break in training down the street, Deputy Fire-Rescue Chief Steve Delai said. The family had gotten their food and walked out, but Vazquez returned because the wrong free toy had been included in the kids’ meal, detectives said. Continue reading Paramedic Dead in Store Shooting→
PEABODY â€” A veteran firefighter struggling to breathe bailed out of a smoke-filled apartment building yesterday by escaping headfirst down a ladder.
Firefighter Steve Franzosa was working on the three-alarm blaze at 36 Keys Drive â€” in the sprawling Essex Place apartment complex near the Northshore Mall â€” when he stuck his head out a second-floor window calling for help. Several onlookers, fire officials from area departments, scrambled to move a nearby extension ladder to Franzosa’s window. WATCH VIDEO OF Firefighter Franoza’s LADDER BAIL
The firefighter left the scene on a stretcher and was transported to Lahey Clinic. He was treated and released, Lahey spokesman Scott Hartman said yesterday. The fire, which started shortly after 1 p.m., smoldered in the walls and ceiling of the 12-apartment structure and proved difficult for firefighters to stamp out, said fire Capt. Jay Dowling.
Spencer Carr was described by those who knew him as a happy 8-year-old boy who ran around his Center Line neighborhood with his best friend and classmate from next door.Spencer and a 37-year-old Detroit woman with a form of Down syndrome died in separate house fires Thursday morning. Three others were burned in the two fires.Spencer died when a fire that began about 4:30 a.m. ripped through his family’s two-story frame home in the 8100 block of Harding near 10 Mile and Van Dyke. His mother, Nola Carr, and his 14-year-old sister, Tanya Carr, suffered second-degree burns to their upper bodies before escaping the blaze through a second-floor window, said Nicholas Chakur, interim director of the Center Line Department of Public Safety. Continue reading House fire kills 2 and Injures 3 Others→