Blaze Rips Maidencreek Township Home

Wednesday, 09 February 2011

By Ron Devlin, The Reading Eagle
January 31, 2011

Firefighters wearing face masks against the cold waged a battle against a stubborn house fire Sunday night along a country road in Maidencreek Township.

Late Sunday, several hours after the fire was reported, smoke continued to pour from the roof of the home etched into a hillside in the 1500 block of Ridge Road near Lake Ontelaunee.

The residents' names were unavailable, but fire authorities indicated the family had fled to safety and was staying with neighbors.

There were no apparent injuries, and the extent of damage and cause of the fire also were unavailable.

The house, a two-story frame structure, was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived about 8:45 p.m., according to dispatches from Berks County communications.

Ax-wielding firefighters broke through the roof, attacking the blaze from atop an aerial truck.

As testament to the cold, icicles dangled from the roof's edge as firefighters battled the smoky fire.

Blandon Fire Company Chief Daniel R. Miller, command officer, led the attack by dozens of firefighters from volunteer companies across Berks County.

Leesport Fire Company Chief Paul R. Lafaver said getting water to the scene was hampered by the narrowness of Ridge Road, a winding lane that cuts through a forested mountainside.

"We had to back the tankers in from Hecktown Road," Lefaver said.

A steady stream of tank trucks rushed to the scene, lining up along Hecktown Road.

In addition to the cold, firefighters faced hazardous terrain as water poured on the fire turned to ice along the road. Firefighters sprinkled oil dry to lessen the danger of slipping.

Volunteers from Blandon's fire corps carried water and coffee about a quarter-mile to firefighters at the scene.

The Schuylkill Valley Emergency Medical Services special operations unit was at the scene to check firefighters' vital signs and offer them refuge from the cold.

In addition to Blandon and Leesport, fire companies responded from Shoemakersville, Centerport, Western Berks, Mount Pleasant and Shartlesville.


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