All that remains of Lafferty & Company Inc. lumber yard at 1100 Hummel Avenue in Lemoyne is smoldering, blackened rubble after a fire devoured the structure Monday night and spread to neighboring buildings.
Firefighters from the West Shore Bureau of Fire were the first ones at the scene Monday night after the fire was reported just after 9:30 p.m. That crew was also the last to leave Tuesday afternoon as they continued to combat hotpots and ensure the area was secured until about 2 p.m. State police were still investigating the cause of the fire.
“Right now we just left it to the business owners. It’s going to smolder for a while, but if it starts catching on fire, we’re going to work on it,” said Tim Mulhollan, one of the WSBF’s chiefs. “It’s up to the property owner now to clean up.”
Firefighters from about 30 departments in Cumberland County were dispatched to battle the three-alarm blaze Monday at the lumber yard as residents watched and other EMS personnel scrambled about the scene.
For hours, fire crews scrambled to attack the fire from all angles as they unsuccessfully tried to prevent it from spreading. Enough flames licked the neighboring structure at Vicious Cycles to set it ablaze as well. Both buildings were considered to be losses, according to firefighters at the scene Monday night.
“Boom, boom, boom,” was what Dana Giardina heard from her bedroom about 100 yards from the lumber yard as it went up in flames. “It sounded like pretty much like a massive super-cell thunderstorm just came flying through here.”
No employees on site
Chuck Felak, the owner of the lumber company, told abc27 that none of his employees were on site when the fire began. He said about $1 million worth of lumber was destroyed in the fire, and seven of the nine buildings were destroyed.
“We don’t know anything about the start of it,” Felak told abc27. “At this point, it’s speculation until we get in and see.”
Because the materials inside the building fueled the fire, Mulhollan said it became “a pretty large fire” and caused firemen on the scene much difficulty. Felak also said fuel on the property may have contributed to the size of the fire. Smoke and flames could be seen from miles away.
“It’s basically floor-to-ceiling wood in there, so it went up pretty quick,” he said. “It was too far ahead of us by the time we got there, and it was moving too fast, so we did what’s called a defensive attack, kind of hit it from the ladder trucks and the ground.”
The flames also spread to neighboring business Vicious Cycles Inc., a motorcycle repair and service shop, where co-owner Scott Fisher said firefighters were able to save some of the motorcycles inside, but it appears the building is a total loss.
Heavy machinery was called in Tuesday to help move the rubble so firefighters could get to hot spots that could light up anew, but Mulhollan said for the most part, while the rubble and ash continued to smoke, the worst was believed to be over.
Tyler Miles is a news reporter for The Sentinel covering Carlisle. Follow him on Twitter @TylerTMiles or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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