Firefighters battle extreme heat at Cheltenham blaze

Cheltenham fire
July 18, 2013 2:38:40 PM PDT
Firefighters battled both flames and extreme heat and humidity Thursday at a mansion in Cheltenham, Montgomery County.

The fire was reported around 1:00 p.m. in the 1200 block of Ansley Avenue.

There were heavy flames coming from the building when firefighters arrived.

Under normal circumstances it would have been a two alarm fire in the basement of the large house.

But given the high temperatures, four alarms were sounded.

Because of the heat, firefighters in their heavy Nomex suits were rotated quickly.

The extra alarms provided extra manpower, said Elkins Park Fire Chief Keith Miller.

"You get about 10 minutes, maybe 15 minutes tops of service from them before we had to rotate them out," said Miller.

Firefighters coming off the rotation were then hydrated and cooled off at a nearby triage area.

A SEPTA bus was brought in at one point as a place for emergency responders to cool down.

In anticipation of the heat-related stress on firefighters, Cheltenham EMS sent five ambulances and set up centers to check the exhausted volunteers.

"We do vital signs, they must stay for 15 minutes. They get water, and then our paramedics decide if they can go back in again," said Cheltenham EMS Coordinator Ken Hellendall.

One firefighter was taken to Abington Hospital. Action News was told he will be fine.

Officials said the fire in the home started in the basement. Investigators were still working to determine the cause.


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