Firefighter killed in Delaware County

March 6, 2008 7:41:25 AM PST
Fire investigators are trying to piece it all together. The fire appears to have been caused by an act of nature setting into motion a series of events that killed one firefighter and left three others injured.

The power went out in the neighborhood, and then an explosion came from a house at the corner of Cherrywood and Moser. A neighbor saw cars in the driveway and thought the family might be inside.

Fortunately, Jay and Kelly Orfetel and their three children weren't home, but the firefighters were told a dog was trapped. Firefighter Nick Picozzi charged into the burning home.

Somehow he became trapped in the basement where the fire started.

Other firefighters went in after him, but they couldn't get him out in time.

Picozzi, a married father of two, lived and died doing what he loved -- serving people. For seven years, he answered the call from the tiny Lower Chichester's fire company that sits up the street from the giant Marcus Hook Refinery.

"The whole (Picozzi) family worked in the fire department. That's what makes it even harder on us," Chief Ray Fuller Sr. of the Lower Chichester Fire Department said.

Three other firefighters were overcome in the rescue attempt: Piccozi's good friend Chris Durbano and two other firefighters from neighboring Green Ridge fire company in Aston. Durbano and Thomas Morgan Jr. were treated and released, but assistant chief Kenny Dawson remained at Crozier-Chester's Burn Center.

They are all volunteer firefighters who put their lives on the line every time they're called.

The fire was apparently sparked by a power surge when a strong wind knocked over two trees that pulled down a 13,000-volt power line.

The investigation is continuing, but PECO says it has had incidents in the past where falling power lines have caused house fires.