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Pearl River Crews Battle Stubborn Multiple-Alarm Fire in Strip Mall

This article is a direct street report from our correspondent and has not been edited by the 1st Responder newsroom.

PEARL RIVER, NY - Fire consumed part of a strip mall on November 28th in a very labor intensive fire that took over 12 hours to bring under control with help from fire departments from three counties.

Pearl River firefighters were dispatched around 12:15 P.M. Sunday to 100 North Middletown Rd., the Rockland Indoor Shooting & Education Range, for an activated fire alarm. On arrival, command reported a one-story strip mall with alarms sounding. Upon further investigation, a smoke condition was located in the basement of the shooting range, with Dollar General and Dunkin Donuts stores above.

Customers that were at the gun range noticed fire and evacuated the building after seeing flames from a wall. Companies searched through the basement attempting to locate the seat of the fire, however the fire had spread above the lead ceiling of the gun range and concrete floor of the business above. Due to heavy smoke with zero visibility, no ventilation, and firefighters suffering from high levels of CO, command ordered all companies out of the basement.

After hours of searching and battling the fire, Chief Morrison requested the county Hazmat and Tech Rescue, Westchester Technical Rescue Team, and the Orangetown highway department to respond with jackhammers to open the floors of the Dollar General and Dunkin Donuts stores to access the fire. All members were pulled back when there was a reported collapse in the basement, and all members were accounted for.

Limited access to the seat of the fire brought high expansion foam units from Rockland County Hazmat and Oradell, NJ Fire Departments to the scene to try and smother the fire. Nearly eight hours after the initial call, the fire continued to burn throughout the basement and was extending. Fire departments continued to rotate at the fire scene, as almost all fire departments in Rockland County and some towns from Bergen County, NJ were called to the scene or covering firehouses throughout the fire.

As midnight approached, almost 12 hours later, the fire had extended to the stores above with smoke beginning to push from the roof and the front of the stores. Three tower ladders, one ladder pipe, multiple portable monitors and handlines were put into place as companies waited for the fire to break out.

Light white smoke quickly turned into heavy black smoke as companies were put into operation. Fire broke through the roof in the rear of the building, sending embers into the sky. Three tower ladders battled the heavy fire that burned through the roof as one ladder pipe and multiple exterior lines hit the fire from the front windows of both stores. A collapse zone was set up on the 'Bravo' side of the building as cracks caused concern for a collapse.

The fire was placed under control almost 16 hours later. Firefighters would return in the morning as construction crews began demolition of the fire building. Six firefighters were treated for minor injuries. Multiple police agencies were also on location due to ammunition in the building, and for the investigation into the cause of the fire. Mutual Aid from over 20 departments assisted the Pearl River FD in addition to numerous EMS companies throughout the county.

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CHRIS TOMPKINSSenior Correspondent

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