A malfunctioning fan likely sparked a fire that destroyed three homes under construction at a factory-built housing plant in Upper Leacock Township .
Thursday night’s fire caused hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage at Skyline Homes, 99 Horseshoe Road, Leola, Upper Leacock Fire Company Chief Jared Nolt said. The blaze is not suspicious and was likely caused by a large industrial fan drying drywall in one of the homes.
Skyline Homes no longer makes campers, but builds federal Housing and Urban Development homes, modular homes, and models used as permanent homes in parks.
Mike Scheid, a division general manager for Skyline Homes, said the fire destroyed two modular homes and one manufactured home all less than 2,000 square feet in size.
Scheid estimates damage to the homes will total a few hundred thousand dollars and damage to the plant is around $100,000.
“There are holes in the roof and the garage doors need replaced,” he said, as well as smoke and water damage.
No one was inside the plant when the 11 p.m. blaze started inside a home that was mostly finished, Nolt said. The home was a modular home as it only had wheels underneath it to deliver it to the site. Mobile homes stay on a frame and wheels.
The home was mostly finished. It did not have electricity yet, so an extension cord was supplying power to the fan, Scheid said.
The fire call was initially reported as an automatic fire alarm. Firefighters were responding to another fire a mile and a half away, allowing them to get to the Skyline Homes fire more quickly, Nolt said. The call was upgraded to a building fire when arriving units saw smoke pouring from the building.
The alarms and sprinklers worked properly, officials said.
The sprinkler system did not allow flames to spread from the burning home and limited water damage to two bays in the 170,000-square-foot building, Scheid said. The building is the biggest of three at the plant.
Firefighters cut holes in the roof and garage doors of the building to vent the heavy smoke. They cut the modular home into pieces and removed them from the building.
About 100 firefighters extinguished the fire. No firefighters were injured but walking was treacherous, Nolt said. “The cold weather made it difficult because water was turning to ice right away.”
Horseshoe Road was closed for 3½ hours. The township salted the road to prevent ice.
Scheid said 165 people work full-time at the plant.
“Everyone is here today cleaning,” he said. “I will have this plant back running again at full production Tuesday morning.”