Fire destroys townhouse community south of campus during Spring Break, displacing families

Dave Wilson.
A large fire broke out on March 27 after a Newark resident improperly discarded smoking materials on their back deck. The fire destroyed three townhomes and displaced the families.

Senior Reporter

Just before 3:00 p.m. on March 27, a large fire broke out in a two story townhouse in the Versailles Court community in Frenchtown Woods in southern Newark. The fire quickly spread to two adjoining homes, none of which had residential fire sprinkler systems installed. The inhabitants immediately fled the buildings.

Aetna Hose, Hook & Ladder Company arrived to find the three houses ablaze and heavy smoke pouring from the second story of the middle townhouse. According to Fire Chief Drew Bowerson of Aetna Hose, Hook & Ladder Company, 19 fire and EMS units from a dozen fire departments in New Castle County, Del. and Cecil County, Md. came to assist. The fire was extinguished within a half hour, and the situation was subsequently declared to be under control.

“The fire department found heavy smoke & fire pouring from the two-story home on their arrival,” John H. Farrell, IV, the public information officer at Aetna Hose Hook & Ladder Company, said. “Multiple hose lines were used for a quick knock down of the fire, however the three homes received extensive damage.”

No injuries were reported, according to Farrell, but the three townhouses were deemed uninhabitable. The damages are estimated to cost upwards of $400,000. Two of the displaced families were able to take up residence with friends and relatives, and the third received assistance from the American Red Cross of Delmarva.

A total of 70 fire and medical personnel were present at the scene until 5:00 p.m. to clear away debris and ensure that there was no risk of reignition. Delaware State Fire Marshal Deputies, who were called to the scene on March 27, have determined that the fire was accidentally ignited by the improper disposal of smoking materials on the back deck of the townhouse.

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