By Rich Cresson
At 7:21 p.m. on March 27, the Swarthmore Fire Department responded to a call on the 700 block of Harvard Avenue for a third floor working house fire with fire showing, which initiated a mutual response alarm for multiple surrounding fire departments to assist. The Nether Providence Fire Marshall is investigating the cause of the fire.
The first arriving apparatus (Swarthmore’s aerial ladder) encountered heavy fire on the third floor. The ladder was positioned directly in front of the structure, and the firemen began an aggressive interior attack to knock down the fire using tank water. Shortly thereafter, one of Swarthmore’s pumpers arrived to supplement the ladder truck’s water until two 5” supply hose lines were laid by Garden City and Swarthmore, from hydrants on opposite ends of the street. Firefighters used both 2½” and 1¾” hand lines to bring the fire under control.
Assisting fire departments ultimately included Morton-Rutledge, Springfield, Garden City, Media, South Media, Leedom, Broomall and Prospect Park’s Rapid Intervention Team. Springfield ambulance, Woodlyn ambulance, and medics from DCMH also responded.
The fire was predominantly contained on the third floor, but caused extensive roof damage, and water damage to the lower floors. The fire was pronounced under control at 8:23 p.m., though final extinguishment was hampered by a cedar shingle roof over which an asphalt roof had been installed.
Soft ground from the recent thaw and rainy weather impeded access, made footing slippery, and covered hoses and equipment with mud. One of Swarthmore’s pumpers required towing by another pumper to extricate it. Clean up and restoration of the apparatus busied firefighters until after 1:30 a.m. the following morning.