Answering the call [Editorial]

The Aegis

It is miraculous that the Easter Sunday morning fire that destroyed the three-story, 18-unit condominium building in Perryville’s Owens Landing community didn’t involve one or more fatalities.

All 24 occupants of the building got out safely, with four having what were called minor injuries, and none of the fire and result personnel that responded was injured either.

Those who responded to fight the fire are to be commended for their efforts, with volunteer fire companies working side-by-side with the paid firefighters from Perry Point VA Medical Center, the latter who also were involved in rescuing the 93-year-old woman who was trapped in her apartment on the third floor of the building.

“I still knew we had the rescue, so at that point, it was like an instinct, it’s what you’ve been trained to do. You have a job. We went back in,” Tommy Meehan, 47, of Havre de Grace, told Aegis staff member Erika Butler late last week. “I was crawling on the floor. Visibility was almost zero. The heat was intense.”

Meehan was assigned to the Perry Point Fire Department’s engine truck with Aaron Neely, of Holtwood, Pa., Brian Turbide, of Conowingo, and Jeff Urbanik, of Peach Bottom, Pa. They were among 100 firefighters from Harford and Cecil counties and beyond who rushed to the scene of the fire. Both Susquehanna Hose Company from Havre de Grace and Northeast Fire Company had their fire boats on the river trying to contain the blaze which spread rapidly.

It took a great effort by all of the firefighters just to contain the fire to the single building, as flames could have easily spread to the neighboring buildings, which did suffer minor damage from the intense heat.

In addition to the Perry Point personnel that rescued 93-year-old Mary Whitney, the Community Fire Company of Perryville line officers and Chief Ray Ryan, the incident commander, should be commended for their role in managing all fire personnel. While the one building was lost, let’s not lose sight of the possibility there could have been more loss of property and more people hurt.

The firefighters, both paid and volunteer, all did what they say they are trained for in the face of a building that was quickly engulfed in flames, with a subsequent roof collapse and at least one person trapped inside.

While every fire poses a danger to building occupants and firefighters alike, the Easter Sunday fire in Perryville won’t soon be forgotten, both for its intensity and damage, but most importantly for everyone’s efforts in the face of such an inferno and that no lives were lost.

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