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June 20,2004

Fire hits Lancaster City row home
Story and photos by Glenn Usdin
Severe thunderstorms rocked Lancaster County Pennsylvania on Thursday afternoon, June 17, 2004. Up to 5 inches of rain fell in a series of violent outbursts. 

Just before 4:00 PM, a local TV stations sky cam recorded a lightning strike in the southwest side of Lancaster city. Minutes later, as streets were flooded and the rain was beginning to subside, a report of a dwelling fire was received for the 500 block of Manor Street, the same vicinity as the lightning strike. Companies from the Lancaster Bureau of Fire were already out on numerous alarms, and the first arriving Battalion Chief found heavy smoke issuing from an attached row frame home in this densely populated inner city neighborhood. Neighbors had reported the possibility of 3 persons trapped inside the burning row home. 

Battalion Chief Tim Greg immediately transmitted a second then a third alarm for manpower. An off duty shift responded to assist the on duty members.
Arriving City firefighters made an aggressive interior attack through the front of the home and stopped heavy fire on the first and second floor of the multiple unit dwelling. Though heavy fire was showing out the rear, the fire did not extend into exposures on either side. A primary search of the building found all units were unoccupied at the time of the fire. There were no civilian injuries. The fire was contained and under control in less than 1 hour.

During the fire, off duty crews and neighboring companies handled a number of other alarms in the city. The Lancaster Bureau of Fire was hit with a 3 person manpower layoff early this year, and routinely is forced to place 1 or more units out of service due to staffing. This alarm was handled with 3 engines and 1 truck company, as the second ladder was out of service. Lancaster City is a densely populated city with over 40,000 residents in an area of less than 2 square miles.


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