Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Blaze consumes building at lumber yard

by on July 27, 2014 1:59 AM

The owner of a White Township lumber yard escaped injury, but the loading machine he was operating and an adjacent storage building at the lumber yard were destroyed by fire on Saturday afternoon.

The fire struck at Schroth Industries, a 67-year-old family-operated business specializing in production of treated lumber, just north of Indiana at 157 Martin Road.

Flames were confined to the storage building, but the heat melted the vinyl siding and cracked the windows of the nearby office headquarters, according to Ron Moreau, an official of the Indiana Fire Association.

Because the office was saved, Moreau said, it appeared the company will be able to continue operating when it’s scheduled to reopen Monday.

Owner Walter Schroth was running a skid steer next to the storage building when trouble developed, Moreau said.

“Something happened that resulted in a fire on the skid steer, and it climbed the side of the wall,” Moreau said. The building was built of blocks on the first floor, but the upper portion was of wood construction.

“The fire ran up the wall and into the eaves and into the attic,” Moreau said. While firefighters set up to tackle the flames, some tried to save what they could from the building.

“With Mr. Schroth’s help, we hooked a 100-gallon tank of gasoline onto a big fork lift and dragged it out of the building,” Moreau said.

Inside the structure, the fire destroyed a tractor and supplies of lumber. Moreau said the Indiana County hazardous materials team responded to control the remains of tires that burned in the building.

Firefighters laid thousands of feet of 5-inch hose to the scene beginning at a hydrant on White Farm Road, connecting the lines between fire engines along North Sixth Street and Route 954 to boost the water pressure.

Firefighters from Indiana, Creekside, Homer City, Clymer and Cherryhill Township responded to the Schroth lumber plant. The Marion Center, Plumville and Black Lick fire departments were placed on standby.

No one was reported to be injured. Fire officials had no estimate of the damage Saturday.

Chauncey Ross is the Gazette’s fixture at Indiana Area and Homer-Center school board meetings, has been seen with pen and notepad in area police stations and courts, and is something of an Open Records Act and Sunshine Law advocate. He also manages the Gazette’s websites and answers your questions about them.
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