An employee of an Upper Leacock Township saw mill suffered serious burns in a two-alarm fire that destroyed a business warehouse Thursday.
Firefighters fought the two-alarm blaze for hours, relying on tankers for water after they exhausted township resources.
The fire was reported at H.M. Stauffer & Sons Inc., 33 Glenola Drive, just before 8:30 a.m. At least 10 fire companies and over 150 emergency personnel, including firefighters, EMTs and fire police, assisted at the scene.
The injured man was first transported to Lancaster General Hospital and then airlifted to Crozer Burn Center in Delaware County, officials said.
Upper Leacock Township fire Chief Cory Imler said the man was being treated for third-degree burns but had no other information about his condition Thursday night. Imler didn't know the man's name or age.
Firefighters reported the fire in the main building was under control at 11 a.m. but continued extinguishing hot spots well into the afternoon. Crews cleared the scene around 6:30 p.m.
Video by LNP Correspondent Connor Hollinger
Early Thursday afternoon, officials urged residents to conserve water for 24 hours due to the “enormous amount of water consumed for battling the fire,” according to an announcement on the township's website.
The hours-long effort to fight the fire drained about 550,000 gallons of municipal water, Imler said.
After fire companies began to struggle with water pressure from hydrants, they switched to using tankers only.
The cause of the blaze remained under investigation Thursday night. Imler said a state police fire marshal will be returning to the scene Friday.
He said the severity of the damage makes finding the cause more difficult.
The blaze destroyed the building where it started, a 240-by-60-foot structure used to store lumber, Imler said. Several employee vehicles parked in the vicinity were damaged from the heat of the flames.
Imler said a damage estimate had not been determined Thursday night.
Upper Leacock Township Chief Cory Imler gives update.— Lindsey Blest (@LindseyBlestLNP) November 30, 2017
-Cause of fire unknown.
-Started in storage building.
-One male employee hospitalized.
-Fire marshal on scene. pic.twitter.com/GrBrpXo7ra
Several people watching firefighters battle the blaze said they saw smoke from their homes miles away.
Timothy Fritcsch could see smoke from his home in Ronks, near the Ronks Fire Company. The 42-year-old said his landlord, a firefighter with Ronks, was at his house when he got called to the fire.
Fritsch drove to the saw mill to check it out. Flames were going straight up in the sky when he arrived around 9 a.m.
“This is one of the biggest fires I've seen,” he said.
Ephrata Borough resident Jason Faltin said he, too, saw the smoke from his home near Kmart on State Street.
“As I was getting closer, you could really see it,” said Faltin, 42. “That's a big fire.”
H.M. Stauffer & Sons released a statement in response to the fire:
“Although we lost a storage warehouse and the materials within we expect to resume normal business operations, early next week. We want to sincerely thank the medical, fire and police personnel for their swift and professional response to this incident. We also thank our Stauffer employees for their quick actions and calm heads.”
LNP staff writers Tom Knapp and Ad Crable contributed to this report.