Crews responded to the store at the Laurel Mall in Hazle Township at 4:23 a.m., circled the building and saw smoke coming from one corner on the Regal Cinema side of the building, township fire Chief Scott Kostician said. Firefighters tried accessing the Knox Box to gain entry into the building, but the box was frozen due to the extreme cold, he said.
Firefighters then forced the doors to get inside and found a fire in a storage room, Kostician said. The sprinkler system kept the fire under control until crews could bring in a hose to extinguish it, he said.
The storage room sustained significant fire damage and that corner of the building on both upper and lower levels sustained water damage. Firefighters used more than 20 fans to remove smoke from both levels of the building, Kostician said.
Kostician didn’t think the store could open right now, as the sprinkler system was shut down and the electrical system needs to evaluated, he said. When called, an operator said the store would be opening at noon. A manager was not available for comment.
Firefighters dealt with extreme cold during the response. Temperatures were at minus-10 and firefighters sheltered inside the store once the smoke cleared, Kostician said. The mall was also available as a shelter from the cold, he said.
Firefighters used a 5-inch hose to supply water from the hydrant. Hazle Township lost three sections of hose due to the extreme cold and needed heavy equipment to pry up the hose, which froze to the ground and cracked in half when firefighters tried to roll it up, Kostician said.
Assisting Hazle Township were firefighters from Freeland, Valley Regional, Sugarloaf, Hazleton, McAdoo and Dorrance Township, White Haven and Weatherly were also called into Freeland on standby for extra manpower if a response was necessary in the extreme cold, borough Fire Chief Joe Stepansky said.