By Alex Lloyd Gross
Several businesses located around the 4600 block of Frankford Avenue sustained varying degrees of damage, from a six alarm fire that raced through the area on Saturday, February 13, 2016. One firefighter sustained minor injuries in the blaze. The blaze was reported around 9:30 AM at Joe’s Auto Repair, which is located on the 4600 block of Griscom Street. Within several hours, the blaze had spread to nearby businesses and firefighters were struggling to contain it.
Freezing cold temperatures did not help. Curious residents that walked under fire line tape when cops were not looking did not help. Some tried to snap cell phone photos which will never go anywhere. The only thing these people accomplished was to get in the way. Streets were covered in water and froze over. To complicate matters, a strong snow squall made it’s way through the area, dumping at least a quarter inch of snow on local roads. Firefighters were freezing cold but still had a job to do.
Firefighters tried to concentrate their efforts along Griscom street and Frankford Avenue. That meant multiple large diameter fire hoses had to be stretched across the road.and that turned neighborhood streets into a mess. The Market Frankford Line was closed in both directions . Shuttle service got passengers to their destination between Church Street and Bridge Street. The train was closed for several hours. Thick black smoke was so thick it was dangerous to walk down the street. you could not see your hand in front of you, and breathing was impossible.
Volunteers such as Red Paw arrived to help displaced pets. One cat was saved from a nearby house and is expected to be fine. SEPTA buses were used to keep people and their pets warm. They were parked just north of the fire building. The salvation Army and Second Alarmers were both doing canteen service. There were numerous agencies to feed, such as water, gas and PECO. not to mention the dozens of emergency workers that needed food as well. The blaze was declared under control several hours after it was first reported.
Just because it is out does not mean fire crews pack up and leave in 20 minutes. The Fire marshal has to investigate to find a cause, debris must be removed and the area must be determined safe. That means the area will be cordoned off for several days. It was too early to determine if the damaged businesses were salvageable. This massive inferno comes on the heels of Mayor Kenney stopping the brown outs.
You can click on the link to find out how the brown outs affected the fire department response time . For this incident, all of the responding apparatus was there in a time frame that is more than acceptable to public safety standards.