3-alarm fire, building collapse at Darby grocery store

April 13, 2013 3:15:52 PM PDT
Firefighters were called to battle a three alarm fire at a grocery store in Darby that led to multiple evacuations.

Crews were called to the Liberia Waterside Market in the 800 block of Main Street in Darby just after 6:00 a.m. Saturday.

Firefighters battled heavy smoke and flames coming from the market, which specializes in tropical foods.

The fire quickly spread to 3-alarms and officials say several walls collapsed during the blaze.

"I was looking out my window and saw a whole bunch of smoke," said Shani Perez.

Fire officials evacuated a few neighboring homes including two apartment buildings as a precaution.

As people looked on, volunteer firefighters with Darby Fire Company worked aggressively to attack the blaze. They faced multiple challenges.

"They've had to deal with overhead power lines and had to deal with the collapsing of a building," said Chief Robert Smyth, Darby Borough Police.

Chief Smythe says firefighters on the frontlines are fortunate that they were ordered back before the fierce flames forced several walls to crumble.

"They made a decision to move those guys back and in a safe position and fight with an external line. Had they not done that we very well could've had a fatality," said Smythe.

Fire crews also had to deal with an insufficient water supply. They pulled from seven hydrants and used one of their engines to draft water from Darby Creek.

The fire was brought under control just before 12:00 p.m.

One firefighter and two onlookers suffered minor injuries.

The police chief commends the team of firefighters for overcoming the many obstacles against them.

"It seems like with every adverse condition, these guys had their acts together and were able to plug that home and plug that hole. We maintained it to one building, I can't say enough about these guys they did a tremendous job," said Chief Smythe.

Meanwhile the American Red Cross has set up a reception center at the Darby Recreation Center on Ridge Avenue for evacuated residents.