Second fire in month breaks out at Gammache farm
BY LARRY ALEXANDER, Staff Writer
For the second time in as many months, firefighters battled a blaze at the abandoned Gammache farm in Manheim Township.
Fire broke out in the wood frame structure known as the caretaker's house on the Gammache farm property at New Holland Avenue and Route 30 late Wednesday afternoon.
Fire fighters arriving on the scene around 5:10 p.m. reported heavy fire on the second floor and attic areas.
The roughly 75-foot by 45-foot house was a "Do Not Enter" structure, meaning firefighters protected against the spread of flames, but made no attempts to enter the burning structure to fight the fire from the inside.
Eden Fire Chief Mike Roten said the house was allowed to "burn down to a certain point" before water was poured on by fire trucks.
Fill sites for tankers were established at Pleasure Road and Louise Avenue and at Hollywood Drive and Pinehurst Avenue.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation by the state police fire marshal.
"We won't be able to get into this one very well because of the damage," Roten said. "The fire marshal was up on a ladder looking inside as much as he could."
Roten said the fire marshal will likely return today to resume the search for a cause.
Neighbors to the property claimed that three youths had been chased from the scene around the time the fire broke out.
Roten confirmed that, saying, "It was reported that construction workers had chased some people away."
Any more information, he said, would have to come from Manheim Township police.
Because the fire is still under investigation, police could not confirm the reports.
"All I can say is that there was a fire, and the cause is under investigation," Sgt. Thomas Rudzinski said.
The caretaker's house was the last structure standing on the 57-acre site after last month's blaze, Roten said.
On March 22, fire broke out in the Gammache Mansion which was allowed to burn to the ground while firefighters concerned themselves with preventing the flames from spreading to the surrounding grass and trees.
Manheim Township Municipal Fire Chief Rick Kane said at the time that the property was on a fire department "Do Not Enter" list, indicating the structure was unsafe.
The designation takes into account how long a property has been vacant, along with the age and integrity of the structure.
The Gammache property is being developed by Charter Homes.