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Firefighters, police rescue senior citizens

Volunteer firefighters from Upper Macungie Station 56, Trexlertown, Cetronia, Woodlawn, Western Salisbury, Lower Macungie, Alburtis, Catasauqua, Lower Milford, Berks County, Nancy Run and Emmaus worked feverously, climbing ladders and guiding water through hand-held hoses to save 82 senior citizens after a three-alarm fire broke out just before 3 a.m. at Heather Glen Senior Living, 415 Blue Barn Road, Upper Macungie Township.

The seniors and five staff members were evacuated by volunteer firefighters and by Upper Macungie Township police after a fire broke out at the rear of the personal care home.

Fogelsville Deputy Fire Chief Doug Gernerd and Upper Macungie Police Chief Edgardo Colón, stated in a news release Upper Macungie, South Whitehall and state police, along with ambulances from Cetronia, Allentown, Macungie and Emmaus.

Upon the arrival, police and fire personnel began evacuation of the facility. During the process, the firefighters battled the fire.

All residents and staff were accounted for and transported off-site for further evaluation, reunification with family or transfer to another facility.

Several residents were transported to area hospitals as a precaution.

Colón said two firefighters were also taken to a local hospital with minor injuries.

Gernerd spoke with The Press Sept. 23.

He said the fire started on a second floor back porch before spreading to the eaves of the building, then the roof.

“There was heavy smoke in the middle of the building,” he told The Press. “The fire did not get into the living quarters.”

Gernerd said to get to the fire, firefighters had to pull down the ceiling on the second floor of the building.

Some of the residents were transported to the Trexlertown Fire Company; others went to South Mountain Memory Care, Emmaus.

“One of the key pieces to this rescue was officers from the Upper Macungie Township Police Department,” Gernerd stated.

Upper Macungie Director of the Bureau of Fire and Emergency Management Coordinator Grant Grim spoke with The Press Sept. 24.

“The cause of the fire is still under investigation,” he said, adding the fire is being investigated by the state police fire marshal and Upper Macungie fire marshal.

PRESS PHOTO BY SCOTT NAGYThis aerial view shows the damage at Heather Glen Senior Living, Upper Macungie Township, after a fire broke out around 2:53 a.m. Sept. 22. Copyright - Lou Wheeland Photography