Dunkirk Volunteer Fire Department

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Multi-Alarm Fire With 2 Fatalities
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By Deputy Chief Jonathan Riffe
April 3, 2019

On Wednesday April 3, the area was under a Red Flag Warning (dry weather and gusty winds could result in critical weather conditions). At 1614 hours, Dunkirk VFD Engine 52, Ambulance 59, Chief 5A & Chief 5B were dispatched to 3885 Gordon Stinnett Avenue for the townhouse fire. Prior to the arrival of any units, Communications advised they were receiving multiple calls and they were on the phone with a lady trapped inside. As a result, the 2nd alarm was immediately requested. Engine 51 and Squad 5 responded on the 2nd alarm.

First arriving Engine 11 (North Beach VFD) arrived on location shortly after dispatch with 2 townhouses already on the ground with fire extending into 3 additional townhouses. The crew immediately stretched inside the townhouse (where the lady was trapped). Within seconds, conditions quickly deteriorated with the floor collapsing. A MAYDAY was sounded as a result. At the same time, Engine 52 arrived on location. The crew from Engine 52 quickly went into action assisting with the removal of the firefighters still inside.

Shortly thereafter, the third townhouse collapsed. Unfortunately, 2 civilians perished in the fire. Three firefighters were burned and required medical treatment. Several firefighters were treated on the scene for heat exhaustion. Five townhouses were destroyed and seven families were displaced. Firefighters from several counties operated on the incident. The Dunkirk Volunteers operated on the scene for 5 hours, returning to service at 2140 hours. Chief 5A operated as the Side C supervisor during the incident.

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