A 37- year old woman and a six year old girl are dead and three firefighters were hurt during an early morning row house fire along East Madison Street in Lancaster. The fire started just after 4:00 a.m. this morning and trapped the two people inside a second floor bedroom.
Lt. Andre Kelley and firefighter Tom Bender had trouble getting water from a nearby fire hydrant but went inside the home anyway to try to rescue the two. They hit a flash- over and were then trapped themselves. They had to be rescued. “There was heavy smoke. It was totally obscured. Since there were multiple reports of entrapment a crew made access immediately up to the second floor. Lt. Andre Kelley and firefighter Tom Bender were on the second floor,” said Lancaster Fire Chief Tim Gregg.
“A flash-over is when the room heats up, the ignition temperature and everything bursts into flames at once. Almost in an explosive fashion,” said Gregg.
Both of the firefighters were taken to Lancaster General Hospital. Firefighter Craig Robinson and Tom Bender were both hurt and released after a short treatment. Lt. Kelley was flown by medical helicopter to Crozer-Chester Medical Center, outside of Philadelphia.
“When they first got up and started searching they found a family pet a dog, and things were happening so quickly, I believe they thought it was a child. The firefighters that were up there are taking it very tough,” said Gregg.
All of the firefighters will be able to talk to a psychologist to deal with the loss. “When they first got up and started searching they found a family pet a dog, and things were happening so quickly, I believe they thought it was a child and the firefighters that were up there are taking it very tough,” said Gregg.
A State Police Fire Marshall is investigating. The cause is unknown but there is a lot of structural damage to the building, and it may take a while because of the extent of the damage.
The coroner is not releasing names of the victims until Tuesday after forensic examination can be done.
Family members of the victims are grateful for the heroic actions of the firefighters. “I just wanted to say thank you for risking your life to go in there and try to get my cousin and her niece. We appreciate it. They went in there anyway. They risked their life and to me they did the ultimate sacrifice, going in there to protect and get everyone out safely and we really appreciate that,” said cousin Diana Marin. “We got a phone call at five a.m. My brother-in-law called me and said there’s a house fire, so we got down there about 5:30 in the morning. From what we understand there was no water going to the fire hydrants, so these two firefighters, God bless them they are heroes, they went in the house anyways and they sacrificed their lives for a job, you know they did the best they could,” said family member Scott Geiter.