A blogger unknowingly opens a hornet’s nest. Video from one of the most controversial fires in Prince George’s County, Maryland history.47 comments
About every day I check the site Firefighter Spot to see what new videos Jason Thomas has posted. What I found today was the clip above that Jason found on YouTube (uploaded on Tuesday by someone who uses the name DCFDfirefighter100). Jason asks on his blog, “Anyone familiar with this job?”.
Jason, you are about to find out there are a lot people familiar with this one. It is from May of 1994 and is among the most controversial fires in Prince George’s County history. For PGFD that’s saying something.
Here is what I know about the fire. A 19-year-old pregnant woman, her two-year-old son, and a four-year-old girl who was a family friend, died in the burning home at 5206 Emerson Street in Edmonston, Maryland. The woman’s four-year-old daughter escaped the blaze.
The woman called 911 saying her son had set the couch on fire with a lighter and that she was trapped inside the with the two children. While I don’t have the exact times, that conversation with 911 happened shortly before the arrival of Prince George’s County firefighters. That information was relayed to firefighters.
What made this fire so controversial within PGFD is that the first units on the scene were ordered by a chief officer not to enter the building and were told to fight it from the outside (you can hear and see some of that on the video). There have been very bitter feelings about this fire ever since.
I believe this is the first time I have seen the complete raw video since 1994. The video is the one most requested by STATter911.com readers. The requests surged again as I finished my career at Channel 9 last month and began posting and writing about old stories from the archives. While I didn’t find this raw video in the archive room, I found a story done at the time of the fire by my friend Miriam Hernandez (now with KABC-TV in Los Angeles).
I had Miriam’s story ingested and started writing about the fire. But I got cold feet. I wimped out and never posted the story (though it did appear in the STATter911.com video player for a bit).
It is not that I am afraid of controversy. I just didn’t feel like dealing with it. It was not the way I wanted to end my career in broadcasting. I didn’t want to handle the comments and all of the finger pointing (and I still don’t want to).
Now that Jason has posted the video and asked the question, I feel somewhat obligated to provide an answer and share it with the STATter911.com audience (as I have done with other Washington area videos Jason has discovered).
I saw the video above on Firefighter Spot earlier today. Two different views of a bit of an explosion coming from a burning garage at a home in Lake Stevens, Washington last Sunday.
Below I found some of the raw video shot before and after the explosion (plus slow motion versions of the blast).
Pennsylvania apartment fire: This fire was reported at 1:45 Monday morning at the Willow Creek Apartments in Ephrata Township (Lancaster County). Two alarms were sounded. Three firefighters suffered minor injuries. It is a fairly new sprinklered building, but news reports indicate the fire began outside, on the balcony of a third floor apartment. Read more.
Chief Tom Carr’s announcement: A difficult one to report for those of us who are fond of Charleston Fire Chief Tom Carr. Yesterday Chief Carr told his staff and the citizens of Charleston he is dealing with Parkinson’s disease. The chief plans to continue running the department. Click here to read his message to Charleston’s firefighters and watch the press conference. Read Billy Goldfeder’s words about his friend Tom Carr.
Update on Baltimore’s Jeffrey Novack: The Baltimore City firefighter continues to recover from many broken bones and serious burns following the April 7 fire at 3910 Liberty Heights Avenue. Jeffrey Novack’s home town paper in Pennsylvania talked with his firefighter/radio reporter dad Al, who provided a lot more details about his son’s condition. Here’s the story.
Ammo takes firefighter’s eye: That’s the latest on Ventura County, California Firefighter Paul Torres. You may recall he was hit on April 5 by exploding ammunition during a house fire. Read and watch the story.
Brain drain in Fairfax County: Darryl Louder is the latest assistant chief leaving the Fairfax County Fire Rescue Department for a chief’s job. Chief Louder is getting about as far away as he can get from us. He’s been picked to run the Contra Costa Fire District in California. Read more. By contrast, Assistant Chief Dave Rohr is staying about as close as he can get to his old office. It was announced earlier in the month Chief Rohr is walking across the street to take over as chief of the City of Fairfax Fire Department.
911 calls from Austin plane crash into IRS office: Austin police released the recordings of the calls about the fiery plane crash into the building housing the IRS on February 18. WUSA9.com’s Emily Cyr loaded them into our player (at the upper right of the blog). You can listen to the calls here, here, here, here, here, here and here. We also have the calls made about the fire at pilot Joe Stack’s home here, and here. Read more.
NIOSH wants Massachusetts to require seat belts for firefighters: One of the recommendations following the January, 2009 crash of Ladder 26 that killed Lt. Kevin Kelley. Read the report.
Also in Boston, Globe wants the pay raise slashed: Editorial writers at the Boston Globe are urging the City Council to reduce the 19-percent raise for firefighters over four-years cleared by an arbitration panel that also ordered mandatory drug and alcohol testing. Read the view from the paper.
Two go through the floor in Columbus, Ohio: We have the fireground audio from FireSceneAudio.com and video of yesterday morning’s fire that took the life of a woman and injured two firefighters. Click here.
Audio from Houston crash: You have likely seen the pictures of Houston Fire Department’s Engine 13 following Monday’s crash into the underside of a freeway overpass. Here’s the radio traffic.
Firefighter and son could face murder charges: Now that a 55-year-old man has died from an April 8 beating, a Philadelphia firefighter and his son are expected to be charged with murder. The pair are accused of attacking Mark Wallace and fleeing the scene after Wallace walked in front of their car. Here’s the story.
Sunday’s 4-alarm fire in Union, New Jersey: You have probably seen lots of pictures and video from the weekend wind swept fire in Union that spread to four buildings. This version is from our friend Paul Bassett. Make sure you check out Paul’s still pictures by clicking here.
One of the more interesting videos I have seen recently: Have to give Jason Thomas at Firefighter Spot credit for finding this. The photographer springs into action and moves a police car blocking the way as firefighters in Maple Shade, New Jersey pull up to a motel fire on Sunday. In Part 2 you will see where the cops were. Check out the third floor as they break out windows, apparently looking for victims.
A top doc socks it to DC Fire & EMS over child death: It is only two paragraphs long, but Monday’s letter to the editor in the Washington Post from Dr. Joseph Wright packs a wallop. You will want to take a look at the doctor’s credentials in the field of pediatric emergency medicine as it relates to EMS. Dr. Wright not only questions what happened in the recent death of 2-year-old Stephanie Stephens, he is critical of how the system generally provides pediatric pre-hospital care. The DC Fire & EMS Department stands on its record of improvements since Mayor Adrian Fenty’s task force provided an outline for the future of EMS following the 2006 death of former New York Times reporter David Rosenbaum. Dr. Wright looked at Stephens’ death as a “pediatric Rosenbaum”. Click here for our coverage.
Long Island fire chief & FDNY member accused of “vigilante” justice: Hempstead Fire Department Chief Michael Charles. who is a retired NYPD detective, and FDNY’s Brian Schuck from Ladder 111, are accused of stopping and searching a pedestrian at gun point and then letting them go. The men were in the fire SUV. The incident happened after shots rang out near the Hempstead firehouse. Schuck has been suspended without pay. Read and watch the story and here.
Pay attention to this report and you can get rid of STATter911.com: The Cumberland Valley Volunteer Firemen’s Association is trying to put this blog out of business and I am helping them. It is called reputation management and the CVVFA folks put together a special report on how some firefighters are tarnishing the image of the fire service. They even asked me to give them some insight on the awful stories I cover. Forget my role and just read the document. Here it is.
Speaking of reputations – it doesn’t look like Chicago’s mayor is ready to help salvage the fire commissioner’s image: The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting Mayor Richard Daley “conspicuously refused today to give embattled Fire Commissioner John Brooks a vote of confidence”. Brooks, accused of sexual harassment, made this memorable statement to the Sun-Times:
I do not proposition women. I don’t have to. Women usually proposition me. God has blessed me like that.
Los Angeles City Council has second thoughts on cutting ambulance service to save money: The plan is to stop using 10 of the department’s ambulances during night time hours. But after hearing testimony the council is getting cold feet. Here is the story.
Smoking ban for new firefighters rejected: In Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin the police and fire commission is bucking the trend and said no to a new tobacco free policy for newly hired firefighters. Check out the story.
Exploding cell phone: It wasn’t even plugged in, according to a family and firefighters in Seffner, Florida. Here’s the story.
Fire chief lays down the law over convicted arsonist/bomber: Read the story from North Haledon, New Jersey about a convicted arsonist/bomber who was participating in fire department activities.
Fire chief lays down the law over accidental fire: Actually that’s this chief’s name, Jonathan Law. He’s the chief of Oklahoma’s Nescatunga Fire Department. Chief Law told the Alva Review/Courier, “I will not stand for such kinds of incidents” after a firefighter accidentally started a small grass fire. Here’s the story.
Man dead after crashing into ambulance and other vehicles: Firegeezer has the story from Lawton, Michigan.
The Fire Critic has lost his mind: Where The Fire PIO yesterday had one of the more interesting blog postings I have seen in a while, our friend in Roanoke has gone far in the other direction. There will be nothing socially redeeming in Rhett’s Top Ten Best/Funniest Firefighter Dance Videos, but I am sure you will get a few laughs. That also pretty much describes my first encounter with Rhett at the blogger meetup on Friday. Click here to see what I am talking about.
Iowa lumber yard fire: This is from Monday night in Mason City. No injuries reported. Click here for details. The video is one of 30 you will find in our player in the right hand column of the blog, near the top. Emily Cyr at wusa9.com regularly adds the latest fire and EMS videos from the Washington area and around the country (and sometimes around the world). Also new in the player are a fire in Chesterfield County, Virginia that left a two-year-old boy dead (click here for details) and a four-alarm apartment fire in Charlotte, North Carolina (read more about it).
3-alarms in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ: This house fire was late Sunday night at 27 Columbus Avenue. FirefightingNews.com has still pictures and details.
Prayers for Arkansas firefighter caught in wall collapse during commercial building fire: Firefighters and others gathered Monday night to offer prayers and support for Pine Bluff Fire Department’s Lt. David Curlin. TodaysTHV.com reports Lt. Curlin and others were on their way back out of the Clemments Office Center early Sunday morning when the wall of the second story collapsed, pinning Curlin under a heavy metal beam. The hose he manned is still trapped under the debris. Lt. Shauwn Howell told reporters, “Fellow firefighters had to come to his rescue using everything they could get their hands on, the jaws of life, shovels, scoops, hands, just doing everything they can to free him from the entrapment up under the debris.” Lt. Curlin is listed in serious condition with a broken leg and arm and several internal injuries. Watch the story here. Read more here and here.
Polls close at 3:00 PM: You read my choice yesterday (Firegeezer), now make your choice in FireCritic.com’s Fire/EMS Blog of the Year of 2009 contest. You can email your vote to email@example.com.
Mayor defends placing campaign manager in top fire department position: We first mentioned this issue from Rochester, New York back in late October. Yesterday, Chief John Caufield said he never really considered anyone other than Molly Clifford for the job of director of fire administration. The job used to be held by a sworn deputy chief. DemocratandChronicle.com’s Brian Sharp reports Clifford will have oversight of code enforcement, community outreach, administrative services such as budget, the supply depot and of planning and research. Fire investigations has been transferred to a deputy chief. The union is charging Clifford, with no fire service experience, is not qualified. Cifford had worked as assistant general manager at Rural/Metro ambulance service. Monroe County Fire Wire has the video from the press conference and a few documents.
Emergency radio traffic from Las Vegas shootout: It isn’t our normal beat, but we have the police radio traffic from yesterday morning’s deadly shootout at the federal courthouse in Las Vegas. Click here.
Sexpert advice for firefighters: A sex doctor indicates firefighters have a leg up in the fantasy world. Read more. A warning: the comments on this post may be more than some can handle.
Fireground audio & video from Boston 3-alarm house fire: Three firefighters suffered minor injuries last night at a three-alarm fire at a three-family home in Roxbury. Click here for Part 1 of the fireground audio and here for Part 2 (courtesy FireSceneAudio.com). Details and video are here.
Update from Modesto, CA: The Modesto Bee has been doing a good job of keeping tabs on the status of two firefighters who fell through the roof of a burning home New Year’s Night. Jim Adams has second and third degree burns over 40-percent of his body. Adams is currently in a medically induced coma and is expected to be at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento for as long as a month. Jason Clevenger, with burns over 10-percent of his body, could be released from Doctors Medical Center within a day or two. Read more.
Florida fire may be related to suicide attempt: Click here for details, video and pictures from a large apartment complex fire in Ocoee last night.
Fireground audio and video from Dallas fourth-alarm: Click here for the fire yesterday morning at a floor covering business.
Frozen hydrants: The problem delayed efforts during a restaurant fire in Indianapolis. Click here for the story and the video.
New Year’s Eve fire in Lower Towamensing Township, Pennsylvania: Jason Thomas has been coming back swinging after a few technical setbacks with Firefighter Spot. This fire from Carbon County is one of many videos he has been posting in recent days. Read more about the fire.