Pennsylvania Firefighters Barely Escape Near-Deadly Flashover

Updated: 04-03-2007 11:27:06 AM

Courtesy of The Trentonian

BRISTOL TWP., Pa.-- Three firemen barely escaped with their lives early yesterday morning when a flashover devoured the second story of a Levittown, Pa., house.

Three residents at the 25 Spring Lane, Stonybrook section home had already escaped the 12:27 a.m. blaze.

A 68-year-old resident had been watching TV upstairs when his cable went out.

"So he went downstairs to check his cable," said Chief Kevin Flanagan Jr. of Edgely No. 1, Engine 10. "He walks outside to find the whole side of his house was on fire. What actually had happened was the cable wires had burned through."

Flanagan said the resident ran back inside and alerted his sons or grandsons to get out. (Their names were not available.)

Flanagan and his volunteers were the first to arrive, seeing heavy fire on the front and side of both floors.

"Crews went inside ... to make make an attack on it," he said. "Conditions deteriorated rapidly, trapping three firefighters upstairs. For the most part, we could say it was a flashover; it just engulfed the whole second floor that fast."

A Mayday was called, and an evacuation tone was sounded over the radio, alerting firefighters to cease all operations and get out of the house immediately.

"Two jumped out a window, one without a ladder, and one came down a ladder. And the other one tumbled down the inside stairs," he said.

"These guys, if they would have had 30 seconds more in there, we would be dealing with a fatality right now," he said. "It was very very lucky."

No names were released. All three were volunteers at the Levittown No. 2 Fire Co., Station 13, at 6 County Way. Chief Chris Kelly was not available for comment.

"The firefighter who came down the stairs had the worst burns, on his chin and forehead," said EMS Officer Paul Williamson.

"He was only 18. He was shook up about it. This was one of his first fires. No, he didn't mention [rethinking firefighting]. He's a very good firefighter and this was just part of his job.

"They told me this was the worst fire that they had been in and have seen. At least they came home."

All three were treated for minor burns and one for a wrenched shoulder at St. Mary's Medical Center in Langhorne and released.

"They were all very very lucky," Chief Flanagan said.

Copyright 2007 by The Trentonian.

Republished with permission of The Trentonian