Westwood Fire Company
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House Explosion in Valley Township
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By Battalion Chief John Sly
July 15, 2016

On Friday, July 15th, 2016 the Westwood Fire Company along with automatic aid assistance from the Wagontown Fire Company, Sadsburyville Fire Company, and a Tanker from the Glen Moore Fire Company were dispatched at 1156 to the area of Valley Station Road and Manor Road in the "Cat Swamp" section of Valley Township for a reported house on fire.

Multiple calls to 911 indicated that neighboring residents reported an explosion and that a house "blew up." Subsequent calls could not confirm if any occupants were inside.

Deputy and Battalion 44 both responded and were advised of the reports; both Chiefs arrived at just 1202 and confirmed that the home was completely leveled. Deputy Chief Scott established "Valley Station Road Command." Engine 44-5 and Ambulance 44-1 were also both responding with crews within minutes of the dispatch.

As firefighters arrived on the scene, crews sized up the situation and noted multiple propane tanks visible on the front side of the home and wires were down having come disconnected from the home during the collapse. As it was determined that there was no immediate risk for additional damage, firefighters from Westwood and Sadsburyville began climbing through the debris and rubble to check for occupants.

Crews utilized thermal imaging cameras which detect heat to search for any obvious signs of life in the small void spaces. The homeowner was also contacted and was found to be safe. The homeowner also indicated that there should have been no one inside the house.

Debris was scattered in all directions both up in trees and as far away as 100 yards. With no visible signs of occupants, no fire, and no ability to safely access the home through the rubble, the scene was turned over the the police department.

Investigators from the Chester County Fire Marshals office and the Pennsylvania State Police along with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms were called to the scene to begin the investigation as to the cause of the explosion.

As crews prepared to bring in heavy excavating equipment as part of the investigation process, Portable Light Tower trailers from several fire companies were deployed to the scene the provide lighting into the evening hours.

Thanks to the neighboring mutual aid fire companies for their support during this incident. Some pictures courtesy of IrishEyez Photography.

Units: Engine 44-5, Ambulance 44-1, Traffic 44, and Portable Light Tower 44
 
Mutual Aid: Sadsburyville Engine 31-1, Wagontown Rescue 35 and Squad 35, Glen Moore Engine 48-5, Medic 93-1 and Medic 93-2
 
Hyperlinks: DLN: House in Valley Township blows up; cause unknown
Fox News: Building collapse reported in Valley Township
 

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