Mutual Aid – Working Commercial Structure Fire

11/26/2011 – At 23:14 hours units on standby in Schuylkill Haven were dispatched to 1478 Route 61 South – North Manheim Township, for a possible commercial structure fire at the China Buffet Restaurant (formerly the River Inn). For those familiar with the area this is a very large building that has been remodeled several times, the building sits right along Route 61 on the Southbound side just before the Cressona Mall. Pottsville P6 (Kevin Sibbett) was traveling down Route 61 on the way to the Cressona Knit fire when this call came in and he arrived on scene first establishing command on the A/D corner of the structure.  P6 reported heavy smoke showing from the eve’s of the entire building and ordered an immediate upgrade to a second alarm.  The initial alarm and second alarm brought the standby units from Schuylkill Haven as well as several units which were being released from Cressona, including but not limited to, Pine Grove HH&L, Hamburg L-61, Sch Haven E-733, Landingville, Minersville Fire L-519/R-518, Alert T-701, Port Carbon E59-11, Pottsville E-71, Orwigsburg E56-10, and RIT from Englewood E-369.  E-11 and R-63 were also released from the scene in Cressona to assist on this incident. P6 ordered that the building not be opened up until a water supply was established due to the large fire load and visible smoke condition on arrival, at the same time reports from units on scene identified the fire as being located in the basement. Water supply was established from hydrants north and south of the incident and an initial attack was launched into the basement from Sides C and D, as well as into Division 1 from sides B and C.  At the same time the aerial units went into operation to establish vertical ventillation, and a tanker task force was dispatched to establish a secondary water supply.  Crews in the basement reported heavy fire with attack underway, however conditions on Side A continued to deteriorate from Division 1 and the roof. Interior crews on Division 1 reported a partial floor collapse and the smoke condition on Side A changed to a dark black smoke pushing forcefully from the building prompting command to order an immediate evacuation of all interior crews and a switch to a defensive operation.  Fire eventually broke through the roof at the center of the building and the building suffered a major collapse at the center section.  Master stream operations were established on all (4) sides to knock down the large body of fire.  Interior operations were initiated later on side C and D into the basement and Divisions 1 and 2 to attempt to overhaul.  Crews were only able to access a few feet into the structure due to the collapse zone.  After all possible overhaul was performed the master stream operation was launched again for several hours to extinguish the remaining fire. P6 remained in command of the fire for the first several hours with assitance from P3 (operations), 56-02 (water supply), Chief 511 (Side C), and Haven Chiefs (manpower and other assistance).  Command was later transferred to Chief 53. Units on the scene included: Pottsville (E-11, L-21, E-32, E-41, L-51, R-63, E-71, E-72, Pottsville units were switched out midway through the incident), Schuylkill Haven (E-733 and Wagon 736), Minersville (L-519/R-518, Goodwill Engine), Landingville (Tanker), Pine Grove HH&L (Engine), Orwigsburg (56-10), Hamburg (Aerial), several Berks Tankers, Llewellyn (Tanker), Mt Carbon (Tanker), Port Carbon (59-11), Alert/Columbia (T-701), Newtown (Tanker), Walker Township (Tanker), New Ringgold (Tanker), Deer Lake (Tanker), Auburn (Tanker), West Penn Township (Tanker), Tamaqua (RIT), Englewood (RIT), Fire Police (Sch Haven, Pottsville, Mahanoy City), Schuylkill County Incident Support Vehicle, Red Cross. P3 Photos from J. Kriesher, R. Williams, Coal Region Fire & J. Morgalis. Top Video from NewsWorking, Bottom Video from