Flames shot more than 35 feet high a little after 1 a.m. today as emergency responders from Schuylkill, Berks, and Lehigh counties were called to a fully-engulfed three-story structure fire located at 114 Dorset Rd., a half-mile off SR-895, in New Ringgold.
In addition to nearby structures, high winds and blowing flames, firefighters had to deal with 10 degree temperatures, minus-4 degree wind chills, light snow, and icy surfaces.
It took more than an hour for firefighters to get the massive fire under control. Neighbors stated the home was vacant for about two to four months and has been undergoing renovations over the past few years.
Firefighters kept the blowing flames from spreading to a garage and barn on the property, both located less than 50 feet from the burning home.
Two water-replenishment points, on SR-309 and SR-895, were created and manned by firefighters and fire police as a constant carousel of tanker trucks filled with water provided a steady source of water needed to fill collapsible water tanks that were staged to provide a constant source of water to all the trucks and firefighters battling the fire.
Cold temperatures added other complications, such as frozen equipment and icy surfaces.
One West Penn fire police officer volunteered his road flare to heat-up a frozen fire hydrant connection so firefighters could remove it. Fire companies and tankers from West Penn, Tamaqua, New Ringgold, East Penn, Lynnport, Germansville, Hometown, Deer Lake, Mahoning Valley, New Tripoli and others responded to the blaze. In addition to West Penn Police, fire police volunteers from West Penn, Hometown and others controlled traffic around the entry and exit points to the fire scene and water-replenishment points.
Township workers from West Penn Township also responded to the fire by spreading rock salt on icy surfaces and roads and at both water-replenishment locations.
This fire was located in Schuylkill County, near the Lehigh and Berks county line, less than a mile from where last month's devastating Blue Mountain Christian Retreat fire claimed its main complex.
Volunteers from the Schuylkill and Northumberland Chapter of the American Red Cross provided hot coffee and cocoa to all the wet and cold firefighters. Fegley's Oil Company/Gas Station in South Tamaqua also donated hot coffee to the Tamaqua Salvation Army to give to emergency responders.
A state police fire marshal will stop by to investigate the scene.
"I'm impressed," said one nearby neighbor watching the fire. "All these volunteer firefighters and others (emergency responders) were very professional and quick to respond, despite the very miserable conditions."
The fire rekindled at 7 a.m. as firefighters remained on the scene.
The owner of the home is ALL ABOUT HOMES LLC, according to Schuylkill County property records.