Salisbury police, area firefighters fight fully involved South Mountain fire
Salisbury Police and Eastern Salisbury Fire Chief Dave Tomcics found an isolated one-story residence at 2890 Fern Lane, off East Rock Road, fully involved in fire shortly before 4 p.m. Jan. 28. The home, a football-field or two set back from the road along a dirt lane, would present problems Tomcics recalls thinking.
While Tomcics radioed the Lehigh County 911 Center for a second-alarm response, and asked for six water tankers from anywhere available, Salisbury police officers banged on doors and windows trying to determine if anyone was inside. Hearing whimpering from a side door, Tomcics and Salisbury Police Officer Michael Palansky forced in the door to find a large dog in distress from smoke and heat.
After rescuers were able to get the dog out of the building, Tomcics radioed for a response from CART, the Lehigh County animal rescue unit tasked with animal rescue.
CART responder Dani Butz arrived to calm the dog and assess its condition. After discussion between police, fire officers and additional CART responders Trisha Burkhardt and Adele Fagan, all agreed the pet needed immediate treatment for smoke inhalation and CART transported the dog to Quakertown Veterinary Clinic, a large area animal treatment center, for assessment and treatment. Gage, the boxer, survived and was awaiting a reunion with its owners.
Firefighters on the first two pumpers to reach the structure, one from Eastern Salisbury Fire Department and another from Upper Saucon Fire Department, directed their attack efforts against flames which were pouring from every door and window in the home.
Salisbury Police wrestled two large water supply lines down the driveway to a Western Salisbury Fire Department engine which acted as a pump relay for arriving water tankers.
While Tomcics directed efforts at the top of the hill, Western Salisbury Fire Department Chief Joshua Wells set up a command center at the roadway to keep track of arriving equipment and manpower and serve as water supply officer for the firefighting effort. ESFD Captain Lindsey Tomcics managed manpower at the fire site.
Dave Tomcics said the fire had “such a head start, there was not much left to save, so our efforts were to get the blaze under control and to initiate a search to assure there were no victims inside.”
Eastern Salisbury Fire Police shut down the roadway, which was made impassable with numerous arriving fire and rescue vehicles.
“With the snow and ice all around, and the water we were pumping up the hill, conditions were not ideal,” Dave Tomcics said, “but gratefully no one was injured and we were able to save a pet.”
First responders assisting at the scene were from Emmaus, Western Salisbury, Upper Saucon, Lower Milford, Vera Cruz and Greenawalds, in Lehigh County, and Northampton County responders from Steel City and Se-Wy-Co fire departments. EMS units came from Macungie Ambulance Corps and St. Luke’s University Hospital Ambulance Corps. Cetronia was on standby at the WSFD station, and Fountain Hill Fire Department moved up to the Eastern Salisbury station on standby.
Salisbury Police providing initial assistance were Sergeant Donald Sabo, Budd Frankenfield and Michael Palansky.
Salisbury Fire Marshal Donald Sabo is investigating the fire to determine its cause.