Anyone in the area this afternoon knows how violent the storms rolling through our area were. Late summer storms in Philly are usually pretty scary because of the high humidity in these parts. It’s been raining beastly this summer and they are saying it’s the wettest on record. I believe them. If there is one thing I hate above all it’s working during thunder storms. That’s where I was when I took this shot of the sky in the Kensington area of town.
Shortly after this we were called out to fight an ass kicking fire in a small building right next to I-95. The Fire Marshall is investigating and there is a possibility that the building was struck by lightning. As if firefighting isn’t tough enough on a regular day, doing it in a thunderstorm is utterly brutal. The humidity saps your strength in minutes. The building itself ( a wood-working shop) was packed with material making movement nearly impossible. The woodworking chemicals made the smoke extra toxic and harsh so we were working in full breathing apparatus. Even so you can’t escape it.
But what worries me most as a supervisor is the safety of my guys. The risks and hazards of the fireground environment go up by at least 50% under these conditions. Everything from guys overexerting themselves, to lightning or even traffic accidents getting to the job weigh on my mind as an officer. I shudder as they throw up 28′ ALUMINUM extension ladders with lightning in the area. Overhead wires are hard to see looking up into the smoke and rain. Working on the roof during a driving rain is punishing. The humidity is so thick the smoke doesn’t want to lift from inside the building. And the heat drives you to the floor.
In the end they did a fantastic job as usual. The fire was contained, and no one was hurt. The owner will be able to salvage plenty of his tools so it wasn’t a total loss. Insurance should cover the rest. Win-win all around. Check out some more pics from Philly Fire News here.