Multimillion dollar Salisbury home burns day after it’s sold
A multimillion dollar Salisbury home along Barrington Lane, in the western portion of the township, was heavily damaged by fire early Nov. 16, a day after new owners “closed” on the purchase of the residence.
The home, which was reportedly sold for $6.4 million, was built in 1997 for William and Phyllis Grube. The turret wing, containing a ballroom, movie theater, game room, an office and other amenities, was added in 2006.
Grube in 2016 was listed online as the president and CEO of Night Vision Devices, of Whitehall Township. The firm supplies night vision equipment to law enforcement and the military.
The real estate transaction reportedly “closed” Nov. 15, when title to the property, known as Ravenwood Manor, was transferred to a group of New York investors.
Neighbors reported a housewarming party was held at the residence Nov. 15 when two tour buses of persons connected to the new owners arrived from New York. Revelers left on the buses after the gathering to return to New York. The home was unoccupied overnight.
The home is commonly reported as the largest and most expensive residence in the Lehigh Valley.
The fire was reported to the Lehigh County 911 Communications Center by a neighbor just before 6 a.m. Nov. 16. Crews were dispatched from Western Salisbury Volunteer Fire Company, Eastern Salisbury Fire Department and Lower Macungie Fire Company.
Western Salisbury Deputy Chief David Xander was the first fire officer on the scene and found the turret wing of the large mansion fully involved in fire. Xander immediately called for a second alarm, bringing additional personnel and apparatus from other mutual aid fire departments.
A third alarm was requested 6:40 a.m. for additional personnel.
An aerial ladder truck from Western Salisbury Volunteer Fire Company was stationed in the cul-de-sac in front of the residence and another ladder truck from the South Whitehall’s Cetronia station worked nearby.
Firefighters simultaneously entered the burning residence to search for occupants.
Interior and exterior firefighters laboring among the heavily-grown landscaping to the side and rear of the structure, used hand lines to pour water onto the fire.
Interior firefighters were notified to evacuate the building when the integrity of the structure was called into question as upper floors started collapsing into the interior.
Two Cetronia firefighters were injured as they “bailed out” as conditions worsened. They were treated at the scene by ambulance personnel and transported to the hospital with what were described as “non-life-threatening” burns and injuries.
The fire ebbed and flowed throughout the morning before being declared under control late in the morning.
Western Salisbury Volunteer Fire Company Assistant Chief William Sames said the fire “was a logistical nightmare” because of the complicated architecture of the residence.
Salisbury Police Sgt. Donald Sabo, who also serves as Salisbury fire marshal, said a double wall between the main home and the addition probably saved the main home from fire spread, but the main portion suffered heavy smoke and water damage.
Western Salisbury Volunteer Fire Company Deputy Chief Adam Al-Khal said, “Fire was blowing out of every window in the turret structure when we arrived,” indicating the fire had a big head start.
Xander said although the fire was a difficult incident to get under control, Western and Eastern Salisbury firefighters worked closely together and followed their training procedures to safely extinguish the fire. He commended the scores of mutual aid firefighters that came in to fight the fire.
Western Salisbury Volunteer Fire Company Chief Joshua Wells was out of town during the fire, but was aware of the incident by an alert system on his cellphone.
Wells kept in touch with his officers by phone and texts and sent messages of encouragement electronically to the firefighters working the fire.
Western Salisbury firefighters were on the scene until late in the afternoon.
They were called back about 5:30 p.m. to the location, along with units from Eastern Salisbury, Lower Macungie, Emmaus and Woodlawn air cascade, as the fire reignited.
An excavator was brought in to tear down part of the structure to allow better access for firefighters.
Along with Western Salisbury Volunteer Fire Company and Eastern Salisbury Fire Department, the incident drew 10 engines, two additional aerial trucks, six ambulance crews from Cetronia Ambulance Corps and Macungie Ambulance Corps, to provide hydration and energy snacks and to monitor vital statistics of firefighters laboring in heavy protective gear, two air cascade trucks for filling air tanks and two Rapid Intervention Teams trained to rapidly get inside a structure to rescue firefighters who get into trouble.
Lehigh County also brought in its special operations unmanned aerial drone team.
All of the responding crews were from within Lehigh County, plus Northampton County’s air cascade truck based at Nancy Run Fire Co. in Bethlehem Township.
The Lehigh County units were from Upper Saucon, Emmaus, Cetronia, Lower Macungie’s Wescosville and Brandywine stations, Greenawalds Fire Company Rapid Intervention Team, Catasauqua, Upper Macungie Fire Company’s Station 56 located in Breinigsville, Lehigh County’s air cascade truck based at the South Whitehall Fire Department’s Woodlawn Station and the Lower Macungie Rapid Intervention Team based in Alburtis.
A contingent from the Salisbury Police Department and the township’s fire inspectors unit assisted at the scene. Fire police from Eastern Salisbury Fire Department controlled access on surrounding streets,
Besides the ongoing investigation being conducted by Sabo, a state police fire investigator has been called in to determine the cause of the fire.