The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

April 13, 2014

Wooden structure was origin of industrial blaze

PYMATUNING TOWNSHIP — The fire in Greenville-Reynolds Industrial Park that damaged several buildings points to human error, but a construction feature from another era may have kept the damage from being much worse.

Dave King, Hempfield Township fire chief who commanded the scene, said, “The fire marshal is still investigating. He will release the cause in a day or two.”

The fire, which started around 5:30 p.m., ravaged an “L- shaped” formation of three warehouses and gutted Furnace Mineral Products, Inc., a ceramic coating company from Ontario, Canada.

The damaged buildings stood between Fourth Street and Crestview Drive. King said the fire started in a vacant wooden building with a wooden roof. It then spread to the adjacent warehouses to the east and west.

A fire wall, which was a common feature for a building constructed in the 1940s, connected the building where fire started and the adjoining warehouse. Although both buildings were destroyed, the fire wall remained.

 “The fire wall was able to hold back the fire long enough for fire crews to get in there,” King said. “It was built for that purpose. It did its job.”

Firefighters were able to save an adjacent warehouse which Salem Tube, Inc. uses for storage. King, who is an employee of Salem Tube, Inc., said the warehouse was minimally affected. “Fire rolled along the roof,” he said. “The majority of the damage inside was water damage.”

“No one lost their job at Salem Tube,” King said. “It will disrupt business for a little while, but not long. The main production plant (across the street) was not even touched.”

The warehouse building is the former Westinghouse, Inc. office building. King said most of the materials were removed to the main plant on Saturday.

A PennTecQ warehouse used to store automotive parts had mostly smoke and water damage, according to King. A Mercer County cleanup and restoration company removed damaged property from it Saturday.

King said responding Pine Township firefighters told him they could see the smoke from their station in Grove City about 24 miles away.

“This is one of the biggest fires I’ve ever had as a commanding officer,” said King, a 32-year veteran firefighter.

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