Apartment Inferno: Firefighters react

August 14, 2008 4:02:31 PM PDT
The wall of flames reached nearly the length of a football field. Temperatures soared to an estimated 5 thousand degrees. So says Conshohocken Deputy Fire Chief Joe Wurtz who was one of the first firefighters on scene.

Wertz says the fire was the largest and fastest moving one he's seen in his 40 years on the volunteer force. He says the apartment complex went up like a pack of matches.

He told Action news the heat was so intense it cracked the windows half way up the building.

Frank Carlin or "Peaches" as he's known, was on ladder 36, the first on scene.

The heat was so intense, it melted the windshield and burned the interior seats.

After initially pulling up, he and his fellow firefighters had to retreat.

"When is the last time time you've seen a windshield melt on a fire truck? I did one in 76, so that's been 30 years, thank God," Carlin said.

Peaches, Wurtz, and other firefighters tell Action News the water pressure and supplies did not hinder their attack of the blaze.

"The volume of the fire was so heavy that it didn't matter how much water we had, it was just moving so fast," according to Tom Priest of the conshohocken fire Department.

The real foe was the radiant heat which got so intense it ignited other buidlings which burned downward.

Nearly 24 hours after the fire ignited, many of the first responding firefighters still had not slept. Thoughts of those who lost everything have kept them going.

They're just grateful no one was seriously injured.

Montgomery County Director of Public Safety, Tom Sullivan, tells Action News, 11 firefighters were injured. All were minor and everyone was treated and released.

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