Media, PA – Sprinklers activate to help control car fire in courthouse’s underground parking garage

The county courthouse and government center was closed Tuesday morning after a car fire in a below-ground parking garage flooded the building with smoke.

“They tried to fight it with fire extinguishers, but it just got ahead of them,” said Delaware County Council Chairman Mario Civera. “The sprinklers went off and the fire department was called in.”

Civera said the fire broke out about 8:20 a.m. and was brought under control within 20 minutes. The car was in a corner of the B-level of the parking garage directly underneath the government center.

The building does not open to the public until 8:30 a.m., but Civera said some employees and cafeteria staff were already inside. Park Police attempted to use fire extinguishers and hoses before the sprinklers kicked in, he said.

“Everybody was evacuated, everybody came out safe,” Civera said.

The cause of the fire was not immediately known. Civera said there were about 75 or 100 cars already in the garage at the time the fire broke out and that employees would be able to retrieve their vehicles Tuesday morning.

Employees and citizens crowded the surrounding sidewalks Tuesday morning as they waited for word on the building. Civera made the call to close the buildings for the day at about 10 a.m., but said the building would re-open Wednesday.

“We want to make sure all the numbers are right, the carbon monoxide level is where it’s supposed to be, the sprinkler systems is intact, so it can accept the public and the employees (Wednesday),” he said. “We just want to make it’s a safe place for tomorrow for the residents and for the employees.”

Upper Darby Mayor Tom Miccozie, who also serves as the county’s director of risk management, said the county does a lot of planning and drills twice a year for just such an emergency. He praised the park police for employing extinguishers as they were trained to do and employees who “acted 100-percent the way they should.”

Micozzie said there was no need to open windows in the complex, which has carbon monoxide detectors installed.

“The fire company is checking now for carbon monoxide levels throughout the whole complex,” he said. “Cleanup companies are already on scene, they’ll do their work with some aromatic sprays, make sure that all our buildings are safe and then we’ll reopen tomorrow morning.

Responding crews included Media, Rose Tree, Springfield, Aston and emergency medical services. Eddystone also lent a hovercraft to the effort, which was backed up to the garage exit with its fan active in an attempt to clear out smoke. Civera praised the first responders for their quick and professional response to the alarm.

“They were here right on the money,” he said. “Thank God nobody got hurt.”

This is a breaking story, return for more updates later in the day.

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