UWCHLAN — Fire erupted at an apartment house in the 500 block of N. Pottstown Pike Wednesday.
Lionville Fire Company was dispatched just before 3 p.m. for the report of a possible subject trapped in the former two-floor motel annex.
Firefighters reported heavy fire on the second floor of the building….The cause of the fire is under investigation
I think at least FIVE fire companies responded. And given HOW busy 100 is, many, many kudos to the first responders because that is difficult location no matter how you slice it. I am also told access to this property is somewhat dicey? I wonder if they could even get fire trucks across the little driveway bridge off Route 100 that I am told crosses a creek there? People say it’s not great?
The reporter/photographer for The Daily Local is someone I have known for years. He covers a lot of fires and one time he covered a house fire next door to where I lived many years ago. I will never forget that fire because the firefighters had to work so hard to keep the flames engulfing an old Victorian house owned by an absentee landlord from jumping to the roofs next door, including my own.
What the reporter/photographer doesn’t mention is a selfless local Chester County resident who stopped to help BEFORE first responders arrived on scene.
And I am NOT saying this as a chide, I am not sure anyone knew. But I know so I am going to tell you.
The person who stopped and risked her own safety was my friend, Ginny Kerslake. Yes, the same Ginny Kerslake who ran for Chester County Commissioner in the recent Democratic primary this past spring that the Chester County Democrats chose NOT to endorse. (And yes THAT is most decidedly a dig at the flawed endorsement process of a major political party.)
This is what my friend Ginny shared with us yesterday shortly after the fire erupted:
Avoid route 100 just north of Township Line Rd.
As I was driving past I saw black smoke and then the flames. Called 911 and banged on the apartment doors right next to the house to alert residents. A woman used my phone to call the woman who lives in the house – luckily she was out somewhere but her husband who smokes may be inside where the fire is. I really hope he’s not. First responders on scene. It’s frightening to see.
I left once there was nothing for me to do but get out of the way. I’m home now hearing lots of sirens and hoping for the best for everyone there.
Ginny acted in a selfless and heroic manner in my opinion. She put herself in danger to try to help others before first responders arrived.
Ginny is a modest woman and doesn’t seek accolades or personal glory for the amazing things she does. However, yesterday what she did was brave and heroic and she deserves our praise and thanks. In a world where so much is ugly, I am honored to have a friend who truly will put her own needs and life aside for the greater good. Ginny exhibited a selfless act of bravery in the true spirit of community.
I don’t think Uwchlan Township even realized what she did.
That above was the Uwchlan Township Police Department press release post incident. They obviously did not realize that Ginny Kerslake was in part responsible for getting people out of the structure(s).
I remember yesterday when PulsePoint reported the incident. They said “commercial structure” so I was not sure where they meant.
You undoubtedly have driven past this now fire location before if you are traveling Route 100.
The above photo with the arrows is one I shared in the fall of 2017 when a billboard was being proposed for the derelict and boarded up farm market or whatever it is next door. I used the arrows to remind people of not only the location on Pottstwon Pike/100 but also the proximity to the location which had the fire yesterday.
And this location is what was once known as the Dogwood Motel. Now it appears to be apartments of some sort. And this location once again represents the very limited supply of “affordable housing” in this part of Chester County. Like the mobile home parks we see scattered about including in townships in close proximity like East Whiteland and further away near or in other municipalities like Wallace Township, Honeybrook, Phoenixville, and the Downingtown areas, the old Dogwood Motel represents a very limited supply of affordable housing.
And as Chester County continues to get bombarded with new developments, the affordable housing supply continues to dwindle. And we are not simply referring to section 8 housing, we are referring to low income housing for those of modest means in all categories including our elderly who live on fixed incomes in a lot of cases. With all of this new development, taxes and rents increase often pricing life-long residents quite literally out of their homes.
No, I am not being a drama queen, it’s true. And people of low incomes and modest means are the invisible people society doesn’t wish to see.
This location at 514 N. Pottstown Pike is run down and has been for years. A search through Chester County records indicates the property is owned by people who seem as if they lived locally at one time, but now reside in Florida. I am not positive but if I am reading old deeds correctly they bought it possibly in a Sheriff’s sale decades ago? Here is are screen shots from Chesco Views:
The Daily Local indicates there is some sort of investigation post-fire. That is normal. Of course other questions would now include if the property owners are the equivalent of absentee landlords who is responsible for day to day maintenance on this property? And who at a township level and county level is responsible for seeing that this structure and other low income rental properties are safe and up to code?
It is thanks to first responders and ordinary people like Ginny Kerslake who is not a first responder that no lives were lost.
But what happens now to all of the residents who call this location home? I can’t answer that question but myself and many others are wondering.
If anyone does any LEGITIMATE fundraisers for the residents here, please post a comment on this blog’s Facebook page.
But for the grace of God go any of us in a situation like this.
Photo courtesy of my sister, who literally visited Notre Dame a few short weeks ago.
I was 14 when I saw Notre Dame. A visit to Paris at the end of a summer trip to Strasbourg through I a local historical society- I think at the time it was a historical society in Valley Forge but it has been so many years.
Photo courtesy of my friend Jane
On this trip it was teenagers with chaperones and while in Strasbourg we lived with families. That is how I made my life long friend, Marie Claude.
Photo courtesy of my friend John
When in Paris, we stayed in an old but respectable hotel near Gare De L’Ouest and my friend blew the fuses when she plugged in a hair dryer. They were definitely not luxury accommodations but to a bunch of kids it was cool!
Photo courtesy of my friend Jane
Now here is a personal fact you wouldn’t expect from me I think: I may be well read, but I am not necessarily well traveled. I have not been to Europe since I was a teenager. Life has just not happened that way.
Photo courtesy of my sister and taken March, 2019
I do remember being in Paris and being overwhelmed because it was so big and busy. I remember doing things like stopping in a grocery for a baguette and cheese and fruit with my friend Lizzie and seeing Notre Dame and part of Versailles.
Photo courtesy of my friend Jane
I do have a bucket list of places I would like to see now that I’m older, but I hadn’t put Paris on it. Maybe I should now. A great deal of my bucket list surrounds the United Kingdom. I want to visit all the gardens I’ve read about and been inspired by over the years, and I want to go to wild places like the Shetland Isles, visit the Highlands of Scotland, see Haverfordwest and parts of Wales, and visit Ireland.
Photo courtesy of my friend John
Notre Dame is indeed a structure and a place which has figured prominently in a sense over the lives of so many people. The centuries of history and what Notre Dame has seen and survived, art history classes, the very symbol of it if you are Catholic.
Notre Dame is just iconic.
Photo courtesy of my friend John
Yesterday to most in the US was just another tax day. Well, maybe not just another tax day because thanks to our current president’s great “tax incentives, tax plans” it was kind of chaotic. And miserable. But that’s not for this post.
I remember I was standing in my kitchen and I had asked Alexa what the news was. I literally dropped a glass in the sink when I heard Notre Dame de Paris was burning.
Photo courtesy of my friend John
When I first turned on the TV all the US channels of major networks had game shows and the equivalent on air. So I turned to the BBC channel for news and pretty much remained riveted there for hours.
Notre Dame has survived centuries of war. Only on April 15, 2019 it has nearly burned to the ground. The news this morning is good, and already money is being raised for her restoration and rebuilding. But I can’t help but wonder all that has been lost while I marvel at the miracle of what was saved.
Here we are in one of the holiest weeks of the year. Are we supposed to learn the lesson that with endings there are new beginnings once again? I don’t know. But I have photos taken by my sister and my friends Jane and John to share with all of you. Enjoy the majesty that is Notre Dame de Paris and say a prayer for her restoration.
West Chester Mayor Jordan Norley said Friday afternoon that a few of the more than 130 residents of the Barclay Friends Senior Living Community, located west of Philadelphia, were unaccounted for following the huge fire.
“We’re hoping for the best obviously here,” said Norley, who put the number taken to area hospitals at 29.
Officials said fewer than 20 remained hospitalized and all were in good condition.
County emergency officials said there was the possibility someone could have died in the fire, which erupted late Thursday night. But a spokeswoman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which was on the scene, told an afternoon news conference that no relatives had reported any family members missing.
Some patients are at Chester County Hospital. These people have lost everything. Especially photos and memories. It’s devastating.
The ATF was on scene this afternoon as well, so that should help people get answers, right?
It has been a very long day in the Borough of West Chester. On the eve of Thanksgiving I am grateful for all those neighbors, fire fighters, and EMTs and police who responded to this. I am told by friends that we can always drop off food or snacks to these volunteer fire companies. These men and women do this day in and day out.
Most of us in Chester County woke up to those devastating news. Barclay Friends in the Borough of West Chester went up in flames as many of us, myself included, were sleeping. I have a friend whose mom was there, thank goodness she is now home and safe with her family. There are many, many displaced seniors as a result.
It is the eve of Thanksgiving and I think we must be grateful for the absolutely amazing first responders we have in Chester County. Firefighters, EMTs, police, and so on. I am not one to toss around the word blessed lightly, but we are so blessed with these heroic individuals because this could have been so much worse without their expertise and valor.
Prayers go to the families with displaced seniors and the staff of Barclay Friends . I am happy to post legitimate fundraising efforts one Barclay Friends gets this sorted out to where they can do that. I am also happy to post efforts of groups who will be collecting clothing and other basics for these seniors. And if someone is planning to get Thanksgiving dinner to these displaced seniors.
These senior citizens could be anyone’s family members, and at least one is a family member of a friend.
I will admit I am so terrified at how fast Barclay Friends went up in flames. All media reports this morning indicate fire investigation is already beginning.
Also, and VERY important: you will note my photos come from social media. I am not going anywhere near that scene and neither should any curiosity seeker. Let the professionals do their jobs and stay out of the area in the Borough of West Chester.
It’s Christmas- let us show this family the true meaning and help – I do not know them- it doesn’t matter because this could happen to any of us – saw this on Malvern Community Forum and decided to share.
Actual photo taken inside Public Storage in Malvern months ago
That really freaked me out because until a couple of months ago, I was a customer of that Public Storage – I had needed some extra storage when I first relocated permanently to Chester County. It was clean and easy to get to and not creepy feeling the way a lot of those self storage places are. The few months I was there we rarely saw other people, and given all the shows on television and cable about storage units (Storage Wars) and auctioning off abandoned storage units, you can’t help but wonder what people store there.
While a customer there I saw mostly people who were storing clothes and books and stuff like me and once in a while people who were antiques and collectibles dealers who didn’t have store fronts, and did shows. Occasionally you would see an orphaned piece of furniture or a lamp no one wanted left inside the front doors by the elevators, but that was it.
So I was floored when I saw Malvern Patch’s headline last night about the sleepy yet clean Public Storage and I am equally shocked this morning that yes, the bomb squad borrowed from Montgomery County (apparently Chester County doesn’t have one?) detonated BOMBS last night! Sweet Jesus! How long were they in the storage facility? The risk to the public with this if not for law enforcement could have been crazy.
Two bomb-disposal units were among the multiple emergency response teams working at the Public Storage facility in Frazer Thursday evening after a large amount of explosives was found inside a storage locker.
FBI agents and bomb technicians worked in and around the building, located on the unit block of Lancaster Avenue, as local police and fire departments controlled traffic, maintained a perimeter and kept ready to respond to any incidents.
Around 8:30 p.m., bomb squads from Montgomery County and Philadelphia began hauling the explosives from the storage facility to nearby Valley Creek Park. The explosives were transported inside large metal containers on trailers, and each trip involved a convoy of fire engines, ambulances and police vehicles…..
Shortly after 11:15 p.m., as a light snow fell, the first in a series of explosions shook houses and woke sleeping residents miles away. At least five explosions occurred before they stopped around 1:15 a.m. Friday.
There were also reports of an explosion earlier in the day, around 7 p.m., but employees at businesses near Public Storage said they did not hear anything at that time.
The FBI had notified East Whiteland Police that they planned to execute a warrant within the township, but the circumstances that led the agency to Malvern are unclear. The Daily Local News reports that the storage locker was registered to Istvan Merchanthaler, a 42-year-old man facing federal charges related to a $2 million Ponzi scheme. Harman said agents told him a Maryland resident had been arrested in connection with the bombs.
EAST WHITELAND — Federal agents and bomb squad units removed a high amount of explosives from a storage locker Thursday night in the unit block of Lancaster Avenue in Malvern.
According to a high ranking official close to the investigation, agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and members of the Montgomery County and Philadelphia bomb squads removed about 60 pipe bombs from a storage locker at Malvern Public Storage and transported them to a nearby park, where they were to be detonated.
The source, who asked to remain anonymous due to the ongoing and sensitive nature of the investigation, said that the storage locker was registered to 42-year-old Istvan Merchanthaler, a Chester County man facing federal charges in connection to a Ponzi scheme that officials say defrauded investors of about $2 million over the past seven years. Officials close to Merchanthaler’s case said the suspect was connected to similar explosive investigations in other states, and added that he is facing charges in multiple jurisdictions throughout the east coast….The United States Attorney’s Office announced additional fraud charges against Merchanthaler Thursday
Ponzi schemes are bad enough without adding BOMBS to the mix. So what was the goal here? Defraud some people and blow some others up? Wow. Nice guy this Istvan Merchanthaler, right?
I believe I was in 9th or 10th grade the last time there was a fire at the historic Radnor Township mansion known as Bloomfield. Bloomfield was built at the turn of the 20th century in the Radnor Township portion of Villanova on the bones of a Victorian Estate built for Albert Eugene Gallatin in the 1880’s. Bloomfield was built by Horace Trumbauer and her gardens were designed by the Olmstead brothers.
This place in my opinion was like Radnor’s La Ronda and it was a marvel it had survived this long without being torn down or bastardized. It looked like a French Chateau with fabulous gardens and a graceful, grand presence. It was being rented by a Canadian family at the time of the fire – which began mid-afternoon yesterday.
I went today to the site and when I got out of my car there were some news vans at the estate entrance on S. Ithan and the air smelled heavily of smoke. As I went to take my photos I also glanced up the street shows the gaping, ravaged land where private school Agnes Irwin had been reportedly blasting this week.
So we left, and we got some good photos, and as we wandered back down the driveway, there were yet more gawkers, so I would not be surprised if they did not soon post a police car at the foot of the driveway.
People are driving up and down S. Ithan hoping for a glance of the scene, and I found others back around Trianon Lane, where you can see glimpses of the gardens, house, and pool from behind wrought iron fencing.
NBC10 is reporting that investigators are trying to find a cause. The state police fire investigator is now reported to be in charge of the investigation. I was told that around 175 volunteer fire fighters responded from several companies from all over the area to fight this fire. (This as a related aside is why everyone should support their local first responders and on the Main Line and in Chester County they are a predominantly volunteer force.) First responders came from Radnor, Bryn Mawr, Ardmore, Gladwyne, Penn Wynne, King Of Prussia, Manoa and Newtown Square.
They say the slate roof made it hard for firefighters to break into the roof and battle the fire. I am also told some firefighters may have suffered some issues due to the heat, etc of the fire. God bless them for what they did, because truthfully, I know many people near the mansion who had fears of the fire jumping via the trees surrounding the property. With wind and fire, you just never know how it will travel.
The mansion was most recently owned by Jerald Batoff, son of a former Democratic fundraiser heavyweight, William “Bill” Batoff. I looked at Delaware County property records yesterday and Batoff had only owned it a few years. I am told by neighbors that although it had renters, the mansion had been for sale. Apparently a movie soon to be released called “Safe” was partially filmed there in 2010 – the mansion was a film double for New York City’s Gracie Mansion.
I think this is an incredibly sad loss if this mansion ends up not being rebuilt (I am sure residents will now be nervous that the mansion will be razed and the land sold for some sort of development because that would be a natural thought process after a fire of such devastation), and it is but for the grace of God that people weren’t killed because of this fire.
A historic Main Line mansion in Radnor Township was gutted by a fire Wednesday afternoon.
An automatic alarm was triggered shortly before 2:30 p.m., and by the time firefighters arrived, flames could be seen shooting through the roof of the three-story structure on the estate known as Bloomfield, said Township Fire Marshal Don Wood.
A man and woman who were renting the property got out safely with their two dogs and a rabbit in a cage, Wood said. Three firefighters suffered minor injuries.
The fire, which started in an area between the main house and an adjoining garage, was declared under control before 6 p.m., but fire crews were still putting out hot spots well into the night, Wood said.
About 10 companies and 175 firefighters responded to the blaze, which was the equivalent of four alarms, Wood said.
As they battled the towering flames, the mansion was veiled in white smoke that would occasionally clear enough to reveal the charred remains….The estate was originally the site of the Victorian home of Albert Eugene Gallatin, which was built around 1885.
George McFadden Jr., a cotton tycoon, acquired the estate, and in the early 1920s he hired famed Philadelphia architect Horace Trumbauer to remake the main residence ….It became known as Bloomfield, the name of a branch of the family, the historical society reported in a 1988 newsletter article.
McFadden died when he was electrocuted by a steam cabinet in a bathroom, the article said, but the estate remained in the family until 1984.
In late 2010, the 5.87-acre estate served as a double for Gracie Mansion, the official residence of New York City’s mayor, for the Jason Statham action movie Safe…Bloomfield, listed for sale last year at $6.9 million, had 19 bedrooms and nine full baths in its 22,000-plus square feet of living space, officials said.
County records show the property is owned by Jerald Batoff, the son of the late William Batoff, a prominent Democratic fund-raiser.
On Thursday all that was left of a once a sprawling Main Line Mansion was the charred remains and stone walls.
Just a day earlier flames broke out at the historic Horace Trumbauer-designed mansion at 200 S Ithan Avenue in Villanova, Pa….On Thursday the State Police and state fire officials took over the investigation into the cause of the multi-alarm blaze at the 22,000-plus-square-foot home as authorities remained quiet as to what could have caused the massive blaze.
Neighbors told NBC10 that renters were apparently inside when the fire started…A few firefighters suffered minor injuries battling the blaze.
10:30 p.m. update. The photos you now see are courtesy of Kimberton Fire Company. Support your local first responders and remember most of them are volunteers. They are the people you see in the grocery store, at church, etc. These people volunteer to put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe. I have a friend who is an EMT. Today’s fire is why everyone should have an emergency plan, which includes what to do in case of a fire. We have fire escape plans and drills in our schools and where we work, but often we don’t have an emergency prepardeness plan for our homes.
WEST VINCENT — A two-story mansion on Beaver Hill Road was destroyed by fire Wednesday morning, although the three residents and two family dogs escaped, officials confirmed.
Kimberton Deputy Fire Chief Dave Kronmuller said the homeowners were home at the time the fire broke out around 5 a.m. They smelled smoke and called for help.
All three of the residents, a man, woman and child, went to the hospital on their own to be checked out for possible smoke inhalation after apparently attempting to put the fire out themselves before fire crews arrived, officials said. The residence was fully involved when an ambulance and the first fire crews arrived at the scene.
Officials said four cats in the residence are still unaccounted for.
Photo courtesy of Kimberton Fire Company
UPDATE: I am not sure of exact age of house (I think this is it on Zillow and further research indicates both a new house and an old house circa 1880 on the property) and a person in the area says they think easily over a million as far as a loss, but that is just a guess based on comparables. I will update and/or correct as information reaches me. I am told the fire marshal is on scene and as of yet no cause has been determined. The cause is probably nothing nefarious, as it just doesn’t take much in winter to make a house go up – electrical issues, heater issues, chimney issues – pick something. I feel badly for the people who lost their home. Another source tells me they spoke with the family, who are thankfully all o.k. I think there were a crazy amount of fire trucks who responded to this, and everyone should also remember the first responders, who are once you get outside of big cities, mostly volunteers.
The home has a cool local history (every old house has a story):
That old house was on the property when current owners bought it. The built a new huge house it the woods to the rear of the little one. The entire property was known as “Camp Kelton Woods”, a former girl scout owned camp in the 50’s and 60’s. The camp administrator Allen Houck lived in the little house, and also owned the Birchrunville General Store where his wife was postmaster for years. When the camp was sold, the Houcks had to leave, and current owners bought the entire property. They use the old house as a tennant or in-law property, and built the huge house for themselves. They might both have the same street address. Not sure of that.
Wow. This is awful. I do not see anything on The Daily Local about this yet. Anyone know anything? Was this an old house? New house? House under any kind of construction or reconstruction?
2-Alarm Fire Consumes Mansion In Chester County
February 22, 2012 7:20 AM By Steve Beck, Al Novack
WEST VINCENT TOWNSHIP, Pa. (CBS)– A two-alarm fire gutted a three-story mansion in Chester County early Wednesday morning.
The fire started at about 5 a.m. inside a home in the 2300 block of Beaver Hill Road in West Vincent Township.
Chopper 3 HD was over the scene of the fire where firefighters battled the blaze that essentially consumed the entire home.