NEW CASTLE (DE): It was around 7:30 p.m. Friday night when fire crews from Wilmington Manor Fire Company arrived at the Dollar Tree store in Beaver Brook Plaza shopping center to heavy smoke coming from the building and fire inside, said Michael Chionchio, Assistant State Fire Marshal. “The fire was upgraded to a two alarm almost immediately and all available personnel was summoned to the scene.”
This makes the second time officials were called to the Dollar Tree for a fire within two months. The first fire was reported on Jan 24 just after 7:30 p.m., in that fire, crews reported smoke showing from the front door with a fire in one of the display racks. The store just re-opened last week.
Firefighters were battling the fire from all different angles for hours to save other stores on the strip. Employees who were working at the time of the fire at Beaver Brook Liquors, Cut Creators, Sunset Subs & Steaks, Asian House, Airport Cleaners, Pivot, and Food Lion were all displaced. It’s unknown what damage if any of the stores along the strip may have suffered as a result of the fire.
Delaware Newsline was able to obtain an audio recording of Friday night’s inferno between fire crews and New Castle Castle County Fire dispatchers as the blaze rage out of control into the early evening hours.
Audio Courtessy of: Broadcastify via Dave Shore News Beacon
In the audio you hear the first unit arrive on scene reporting smoke showing to the New Castle County Fireboard. From that moment on the radio wave begins to get really busy. A second alarm was called in almost immediately following the arrival of the first fire truck. About twenty minutes into the communication, the radio waves gets so heavy, fireboard asked all units to stand by as a firefighter is heard screaming and breathing heavily.
Some of the audio is garbled but we transcribed it the best we could:
7:07 p.m. Fire units from Wilmington Manor, Old New Castle, Holloway Terrace, Christiana, and Miquadale was dispatched the the structural fire.
7:12 P.M. Fireboard informs the first unit departing their station that bags were reported on fire.
7:19 P.M. Engine 12 first unit on scene reported smoke on the roof. Seconds after arriving, engine 12 reports the fire is on the Dollar Tree side of the shopping center.
7:20 P.M. Deputy 28 is enroute to the scene.
7:20 P.M. On scene with heavy smoke showing.
19:24 P.M. Fireboard dispatches a 2nd alarm to Wilmington Manor Fire Company with assistance from Belvedere, Newport, and Five Points fire companies.
19:30 P.M. Fire command orders all firefighters to evacuate the structure immediately.
Saturday afternoon, the Delaware Office of the State Fire Marshal and federal bureau of ATF from the Baltimore field office arrested a Bear, Delaware man in connection with the blaze.
According to Assistant State Fire Marshal, Michael Chionchio, Timothy M. McDowell, 58, was apprehended at a home on Red Lion Road, Bear without incident. He was charged with felony Arson 1st degree and felony Reckless Endangering 1st (3 counts). McDowell was currently awaiting arraignment.
UPDATE: Following investigative efforts today by Delaware State Fire Marshal & our Wilmington Field Office, Timothy M. McDowell, 58, has been arrested & charged with felony Arson 1st degree & 3 counts of felony Reckless Endangering 1st degree. He’s currently awaiting arraignment. https://t.co/kL0DkW0xIJ
— ATF Baltimore (@ATFBaltimore) March 25, 2018