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Fire damages Harrington storehouse

Jarrad Hedes
Gettsyburg Times

7/23) A two-alarm fire tore through two buildings, both owned by Harrington and Sons of Emmitsburg, Md., Wednesday morning on the Waynesboro Pike in Fairfield.

(Fire officials said the blaze, located one mile north of the Pennsylvania/Maryland border on Route 16, did "severe damage" to the business, but a cause will not be determined until there is further investigation.

Crews were dispatched to the scene at 10:34 a.m., with the Vigilant Hose Company of Emmitsburg and Fairfield Fire Company among the first to arrive. The fire was under control 45 minutes later, with as many as 120 firefighters from four counties (Adams, Franklin, Carroll, and Frederick) at the site.

The buildings were used to house machinery that Harrington and Sons repaired, such as lawnmowers and snow blowers.

"You could see the black smoke for miles, even on a hazy and foggy day," said Wayne Powell, public information office for the Vigilant Hose Company of Emmitsburg. "The fire started in the rear building and when we got here it was impinging on the front structure. It got under the overhang and just ripped through from there."

Because the business involved working and cleaning motors of all kinds, firefighters were concerned that the solvents used in cleaning the equipment could cause a dangerous situation.

"There was a lot of gasoline and propane in the area and we wanted to keep the fire from spreading to a house out behind the business," Powell added. "We did that, but there will be extensive cleanup and a follow up investigation to come. We wonít really have any idea what started it until we get in there. The Adams County fire marshal will be taking a look at it and I presume the state police marshal will be as well."

As of 1 p.m., Powell said only one firefighter was being treated for smoke inhalation.

Aside from the gasoline, another concern for crews was the lack of water near the fire scene. Tankers were forced to shuttle water from a pond almost a mile from the business.

"It was a steady stream," Powell said. "They would come back here, dump the water off and go back to get more. The fire was burning with great intensity so our goal was to contain it, preserve all evidence and make sure nobody got injured. There were naturally going to be some heat issues with the temperature like it was, but for the most part, everyone stayed hydrated."

Both buildings were constructed within the last 20 years. Powell did not know the extent of what was lost in the fire, but called it "very significant."

"This would have been the peak of their repair season with lawnmowers and that type of thing," he said. "I canít say for sure, but they probably had hundreds of customersí equipment in there. There is no good time for it to happen, but it hits them hard right now."

Numerous area fire companies assisted on the scene.

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