Dudley firefighters attack the fire from the 2nd floor
Date: Sunday March 11, 2012
Location: 151 School Street, Webster
More photos follow.
Particulars: On Sunday evening March 11th, firefighters from Webster and several surrounding communities were put to the test as fire broke out in a apartment house on School Street in Webster. After battling the blaze for several hours, firefighters were able to quell the blaze, but not after the occupants of the building were routed and ultimately displaced from of their units.
At 5:40 PM, a dispatcher at Webster Fire Control received an emergency call reporting a small fire in a 2nd floor bathroom at 151 School Street. He immediately dispatched a first alarm assignment to respond to the call. As the dispatcher finished his notification, he started fielding “numerous calls from the neighborhood” reporting heavy smoke in the area, prompting responding fire companies that “this might be a little more than a bathroom fire”. Fire Chief Brian Hickey and Fire Captain Ron Fournier arrived on scene almost simultaneously about two minutes after the initial call, and struck a second alarm which activated all Webster firefighters and rescue personnel. Two more minutes elapsed, and Chief Hickey struck a third alarm and special called mutual aid of an Engine and crew from the Dudley Fire Department, as well as two aerial units, one from the Southbridge Fire Department and one from the Oxford Fire Department. The Webster Fire Department’s Tower unit was badly needed in the early minutes of the fire, but was unavailable because it was placed out of service due to mechanical and safety issues earlier this year. The Tower is currently at a repair facility in East Hartford CT and extensive, much needed repairs are underway. Chief Hickey had pre-planned with surrounding towns that if an aerial truck were needed for a fire in town, he would call for their services. The Webster FD does have a second aerial truck, but it has a much shorter aerial ladder and has limited capabilities. Webster’s Ladder 2 was utilized at this fire to access the roof at the rear of the enormous building.
The fire traveled through many void spaces throughout the third floor and attic area as firefighters worked hard for several hours to chase down the fire and extinguish it. Many spectators gathered across the street watching the fire race through what was once the town’s Elks Lodge. The grand old building looked to be well maintained, and many were sad to see it ablaze.
After a very extensive firefight, Chief Hickey placed the fire under control at approximately 8:15 PM, some two and a half hours after the initial call. Crews remained on scene chasing down hot spot for the next couple of hours. There were no reported injuries. Fire officials state that the cause of the fire is has been determined to be electrical in nature, and occurred in the first floor ceiling of one of the units. The fire spread to a second floor closet which opened up to a large void giving the fire a chance to travel throughout the structure. The fire was investigated by the Webster FD, the Webster PD, and the State Fire Marshals Office.
The fire displaced seven residents, and a contingent from the American Red Cross responded to the scene to assist those residents. Fire departments that assisted at the scene were the Dudley FD, the Oxford FD, the Southbridge FD and the Douglas FD. The East Thompson VFD and the Community Fire Company, both from Connecticut, covered the empty Webster Fire Headquarters.
More photos. Captions above pertinent groups.
Webster Ladder 2 operates at the rear of the building. Capt. Paul Brinkley on aerial ladder ventilating windows:
Dudley firefighters attack the fire from the 2nd floor:
Dudley firefighter Chet Moroz (l) and Webster Rescue Squad member Bill Gendreau assist Capt. Brinkley with ventilation at the rear of the building:
Operations in front of the building: