VIDEO: Today marks 25 years since the East Hills fire. Three firefighters died that heartbreaking Valentine’s Day in 1995.
Capt. Thomas Brooks arrived on the scene with Engine 17 and Patricia Conroy and Marc Kolenda responded with Engine 8 just after midnight to the home on Bricelyn Street. They became separated from their other crew members while inside the burning home. A stairwell collapsed and they became trapped.
The six-member family that lived in the rented home escaped without any injuries.
Investigators determined that the windows of the home were covered in plastic, which held the smoke inside and made it difficult for the firefighters to see and find a way to escape. The firefighters were found with a ruptured hose and overcome by carbon monoxide, possibly due to malfunctioning air masks. The fire department changed training procedures and upgraded equipment as a direct result.