On Tuesday, November 17, 2015 at approximately 1012 hrs, Leetsdale (station 309) and Sewickley (station 258) were dispatched to Weatherford Engineered Chemistry located at 180 Leetsdale Industrial Drive in the Leetsdale Industrial Park, for fire alarm activation. Moments after initial dispatch, initial calls were received by both Allegheny County 911 and Beaver County 911, reporting an explosion inside the building, with fire and smoke visible. The assignment was upgraded to a commercial structure fire at that time. Leetsdale Police Officer Lloyd arrived on the scene within minutes and reported a working fire. Leetsdale Chief arrived on scene and assumed Leetsdale Industrial command and reported a working fire in a large industrial structure with multiple exposures. Command requested an immediate 2nd alarm. Fair Oaks, Aleppo Township (station 101) and Crescent Township (station 129) units were dispatched on the 2nd alarm assignment. Command reported various chemicals inside the fire building including oxidizers. Command advised that this would be a defensive attack only at this time. Within minutes of the 2nd alarm assignment being dispatched, command requested a 3rd alarm. Bell Acres, Moon Township and Emsworth were dispatched on the 3rd alarm assignment. Multiple explosions occurred within the fire building. With conditions rapidly deteriorating, apparatus had to be repositioned several times. Multiple aerial master streams were set up, including 258 truck, 197 truck 4 and 101 truck. Crews also set up several water curtains and attack lines to protect the exposures. Due to the numerous chemicals involved in the fire, Allegheny County Hazmat team was dispatched to the scene. Allegheny County Hazmat representatives also requested the Beaver County Hazmat be dispatched to the scene with additional technicians. Approximately 40 minutes into the incident, the original fire building began to collapse as a result of the numerous explosions and very heavy fire conditions. Emergency officials requested an evacuation of the area, in addition to employees at some businesses within the Industrial Park, as well as residents along Washington Street. The residents were taken to an established evacuation shelter. Approximately one hour into the incident, Operations advised command that the fire had extended into one of the exposure buildings. 197 Truck was repositioned to the Charlie side of the structure, where they set up aerial master stream for suppression efforts on the roof fire in the exposure building. At approximately 1140 hrs. command requested a 4th alarm assignment for manpower, as well as special call for 2 additional ladder trucks. Baden (Beaver County station 47) and Ohio Township (station 220) were dispatched on the 4th alarm, along with an additional ladder truck from Moon Township and Ohio Township. At approximately 1220 hrs. command requested a 5th alarm for additional manpower. Avalon (station 103), Ben Avon (station 109) and Bellevue (station 108), Harmony Township (Beaver County station 48) and Rochester Township RIT (Beaver County station 23) were dispatched on the 5th alarm assignment. At 1230 hrs, command requested a special call for a ladder truck from Aliquippa (Beaver County station 91). Command requested a special call for Westmoreland County ventilation unit at 1345 hrs. Command placed the fire under control at 1515 hrs, however crews remained on the scene for an extended period of time extinguishing hot spots and assisting the Allegheny County Fire Marshals and Hazmat teams. Over 100 firefighters from Allegheny and Beaver Counties battled the massive blaze. In addition to the crews operating at the scene, numerous transfer companies were moved to cover the empty fire stations, where they remained until units cleared the scene and were placed back into service. During the incident Allegheny County 911 deployed their mobile command post to the scene along with 2 telecommunicators and a shift supervisor to handle the incident communications. EMS personnel from Valley Ambulance Authority, Robinson EMS and Economy EMS evaluated several firefighters at the scene. At least one employee was transported to Mercy hospital in Pittsburgh, where he was being treated for chemical burns. A couple other employees were treated for chest pains. All Emergency personnel that operated at the scene should be given praise for a job well done, especially with the conditions that they were faced with during the height of and duration of the incident. Firefighters did an awesome job protecting the exposures preventing further loss.
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