Shortly before 12:30 a.m. on Friday, responders from Central Coventry Fire District and a ladder truck from Coventry (Anthony) FD responded to 451 Arnold Road where State Police first discovered the vacant building engulfed in flames.
CCFD Chief Andy Baynes explained that Central Coventry's first apparatus to the scene was staffed only with a single firefighter due to a simultaneous call requiring an EMT to perform CPR on a patient. In addition, the hydrant closest to the scene was operating at minimum pressure, only providing about 300 gpm (gallons per minute). (A typical low-flow hydrant averages at about 750 gpm, with high flow hydrants delivering roughly 1,500 gpm.)
Because of these factors, crews quickly requested assistance from Hopkins Hill Fire District as the two-alarm fire continued to rip through the structure.
According to Baynes, representatives from Kent County Water Authority are expected to evaluate the cause of the hydrant's malfunction on Friday.
After battling the blaze for some time, firefighters were forced from the building due to the high flames and intense heat which eventually caused the roof to collapse.
The cause of the fire remains unknown as of late Friday morning, however investigators do consider it suspicious and will continue to scrutinize what is now believed to be a crime scene.
Residents in the area say the building had been vacant for a number of years. No injuries were reported.
Stay with Coventry Patch for more on this story as details become available.