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Caught on video: Violent flashover at rowhouse fire in Lewistown, PA

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Video above was posted by mcfdtv from what became an eight-alarm fire in Lewistown, Pennsylvania on Thursday.  The video was taken by Melissa Nohe Wheeler and it shows what is being described as a pretty violent flashover. Here’s some of what was written with the video:

Regardless of where the firefighters were, they all felt a flash-over explosion and many said this was the scariest moment during the evening. All of these companies and more, had members either inside of the building or close enough to feel the whole building shake. Carter said when the explosion happened, the ceiling came down and the fire was all around him and the group he was with.

Evacuate the Structure was ordered 

“We heard the air horn, which means you need to get out, but we were surrounded by fire and had to take a moment to get a safe way out,” Carter said. “I would call this the fire of the century.”

Below is more video from the same fire.

PA Lewistown flashover at 6 alarm fire 1 3-27-14

PA Lewistown flashover at 6 alarm fire 2 3-27-14


Comments - Add Yours

  • Fire21

    Let’s discuss what that was…flashover, or backdraft, or smoke explosion. I’ve never heard of a flashover that shook the building like they reported that did. Flashovers continue with violent flaming after the flash…I didn’t see that happening here, although the angle of viewing wasn’t all that great. I did see black smoke issuing from the area following the flash, and didn’t see much flame.

    The building had obviously been opened for firefighting activities, so one can’t really say that it was a backdraft.

    I think it was a smoke explosion. It puffed out along the eaves as the flash occurred. I think the built-up smoke in the attic/upper areas found an oxygen source and rapidly burned (explosion) and then subsided.

    That’s what I saw from this KIC position………

    • DStatter

      I don’t disagree, but I’ve learned better than to get in the middle of one of these conversations and just pass on what the people on the scene describe.

    • riley

      Its hard to say what you wanna call it. They had trench cuts at each end. An numerous vertical an horizontal ventilation so tule out backdraft. which the first crews on sceen actually had the fire knocked down but the gasses an smoke built up in the apartment next to the one that started it created pressure an once they put fresh oxygen with it it created a fire bomb Wichita it did shake the Holmes an we could feel it. The structure had fire stops evry third apartment bit not.true fire stops they didnt go to the cackloft an had gaps between the walls an fire stop an it also kept flairing up

  • M1397

    The idiot driving the engine and the company officer riding in it should be immediately terminated………….

    • AngerManagement

      Question is…. Why did they not grab that hydrant right there at the intersection where the person was recording the video? @1:35 check it out.

      • Mark too

        Well, I can easily think of two possible reasons why they didn’t.

        1) they didn’t know that there was a closer one (this was not in their 1st due area) or they simply forgot. It happens sometimes.

        2) Since there appears to be units already working upon their arrival, it’s quite possible that this unit may have been picking up a hydrant off a different line given the extent of fire. I think it’s entirely possible that other units had already picked up a couple hydrants inside the complex. Grabbing the hydrant nearby could just end up stealing water from those other units if the feeder lines for the hydrants aren’t big.

        I know that’s an issue we have to content with in parts of my city.

        Regardless, if you haven’t grabbed a hydrant and then passed a closer one while laying in, then you either always ride the truck or you don’t go to many fires.

  • Chuck Wetherton

    Looks like smoke explosion not violent enough for a back draft

  • Steven

    That was the most dangerous lay in I have ever seen at 2:09. SLOW DOWN 13-1!!!
    Lucky they didn’t kill someone…

  • onebad94ss

    Lean flashover, enough said.

  • jj

    they were actually having problems with not being able to get water in the first place. it was complete chaos. there ended up being i believe 2 dozen tankers getting water from the near by river and transporting it to the scene