P.J. Greco fire

Flames fed by popping propane tanks burned more than two hours Tuesday in a scrap heap at a Center Township metal processing yard.

CENTER TOWNSHIP — Heavy smoke billowed Tuesday morning from a burning pile of scrap material along Lucerne Road and created, what atmospheric conditions allowed to be, an apparent mushroom cloud that turned heads between Indiana and Homer City.

Workers at P.J. Greco of Indiana, a scrap metal processor, called 911 at 9:57 a.m. for help with an initial report that a vehicle caught on fire and flames spread throughout the scrapyard.

“All I know is, when I got there, we had heavy fire on the front half of a 30- to 35-foot pile,” Assistant Chief Joe Iezzi Jr., of the Homer City fire department, told the Gazette. “And we had multiple explosions due to propane tanks that they had underneath the pile.”

After two and a half hours of pouring water from several hoses onto the smoldering pile, volunteer firefighters from Homer City, Coral-Graceton, Indiana and Brush Valley headed back to their stations.

Iezzi said the scrapyard owners planned to meet with Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) to look into the cause of the fire.

“They were working and when they moved some equipment, they had an explosion and it just took off from there,” Iezzi said. “Something triggered it. Whether it was a spark — it definitely was accidental, but what truly triggered it, I can’t tell you that.”

No injuries were reported.