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Firefighter: Department Struggles to Get to, From Fire Scene

Slippery conditions and fallen trees slowed firefighting work Wednesday evening.

The Martinsville Volunteer Fire Company responded to a structure fire on Woodland Terrace Wednesday evening—but with snow falling heavily throughout the township, that was no easy ordeal.

According to Bill Rose, with the fire company, a call came in to the department around 8:30 p.m. about a structure fire caused by a generator. He said the owner of the home had placed a plastic shed between his generator and the house—the shed caught on fire, and set the siding on the house on fire as well.

But with about 8 inches of snow having already fallen in Martinsville at that point, Rose said, even the four-wheel drive on the department's vehicle had trouble navigating.

Once they arrived near the scene, Rose said, the firefighters were unable to maneuver the large vehicle closer than about 100 feet from the house because of piled-high snow, as well as downed wires and trees.

And they couldn't turn the truck, Rose said, because, aside from the snow itself, someone had abandoned a vehicle on the side of the road after she had difficulty moving it in the snow.

"We had to move the equipment by hand," he said. "Finally we got there."

Rose said the owner of the home was throwing snow at the fire until the fire company arrived, and they were able to extinguish the fire soon after. Just some of the siding caught on fire, Rose said, and the home is definitely salvageable.

But when the fire company left the scene, that was not the end of the evening's ordeal.

When they tried moving the vehicle from the Woodland Terrace home, Rose said, they were unable to turn it because of the snow.

"We got the town to send snow plows, and we had to back the apparatus about three-quarters of a mile," he said. "And we had to get the woman to move her car, which she did reluctantly."

From there, Rose said, they began driving the vehicle down into town—and first almost hit low-hanging wires on Washington Avenue, then were stopped by a tree blocking the road on Cedar Crest.

"We had to cut it away," he said.

When they were close to Route 22, Rose said, and thinking they were home free, the vehicle was stopped again on Morning Glory Road for another tree that had fallen and was blocking all four lanes of traffic.

These trees, Rose said, had all fallen in the snowstorm, and so they took care of cutting that one away too.

By the time they finally made it home, Rose said, it was 12:45 a.m.

"We struggled to get to the fire scene and we struggled to get home," he said. "This was probably the worst in terms of conditions I've seen in 30 years of firefighting."

Fortunately, in all the incidents Rose said, there were no injuries reported.

But throughout the evening, Rose said, the snow was incredibly slippery throughout the township.

"The ferocity of the snow surprised everyone," he said. "Bridgewater had plows, so they were taking care of business."

Susan November 08, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Woodland Terrace, and the streets surrounding Woodland continue to be lowest priority for the towns cleanup. Last year, the Mayor sent a crew of two vehicles to clean up the site where she holds her annual 4th of July speech, while neighbors on Woodland Terrace were out for days on end with their chain saws trying to get the streets passable. Last night I watched while the two fire trucks attempted to go up our block to a fire. Big misstake! Next time you need to enter Woodland Terrace for an emergency you must send a Reconnaissance vehicle in first as Woodland is dead last on the prioity list! Needless to say, we are still without power but at least we got our street plowed!
Susan November 08, 2012 at 09:09 PM
Please be reminded Mr. Rose, the fallen trees that were in your way on Woodland Terrace did not fall Wednesday night. As I mentioned earlier, they are part of Hurricane Sandy Last on the priority cleanup list!
Bryan J. Bradley November 08, 2012 at 10:58 PM
The Martinsville VOLUNTEER Fire Dept. responded to multiple calls last night as both the power was restored to some areas of the district AND the snow storm hit . We track road closures in conjunction with the associated municipal departments but recon is not always possible. We are committed to our job and the oath we take! Yours In Service, Bryan J. Bradley, Chief
Bryan J. Bradley November 08, 2012 at 11:25 PM
For further clarification, upon the restoration of power, alarms go off in homes and businesses which need to be checked. The restoration of power on damaged buildings can lead to fires when damage is not detected until the power is restored. We encountered many such incidents in the preceding days and we respond to all of them with the Bridgewater Police, Public Works, Division of Fire Safety and the oversight of the Office of Emergency Management.
Donna Weidele November 09, 2012 at 02:46 AM
Don't forget these volunteers have to drive their personal vehicles to the fire station then take the fire apparatus to the fire scene, risking their own safety to help others. Thanks to those who responded. Residents still w/o power and using generators should be vigilant on the placement of their generators due to the risk of fire and carbon monoxide gas. Hoping everyone will have power restored soon.
Susan November 09, 2012 at 02:06 PM
I hope my post was not taken the wrong way. I have the utmost respect for the Martinsville Fire Dept and all of our first responders in the area. They put their lives on the line every day. Poles and wires have been down on our block since the storm hit last Monday night. Our Local fire dept was put in harms way that evening because of downed poles and wires left over from the storm, coupled with the the generator fire on the block... A recipe for disaster. During these times when power outages are prevelent, extreme care must be taken with generator use as Donna has stated previously. Residents also need to make sure they dispose of matches and ashes safely.

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