GLASGOW - A former truss plant once part of the Hommer Lumber Co. property was gutted by flames Wednesday afternoon.
In a blaze that brought fire crews from three counties, responders said they arrived to find the vacant Custom Truss factory - the site's most recent but also closed incarnation - fully engulfed in flames.
Despite swirling winds and other complications, they were able to contain the fire to the former truss plant but the factory itself was a total loss.
(Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec)
Firefighters from several companies in the Glasgow area reposition their hoses to put out hot spots in a fire that destroyed one of the buildings at the former Hommer Lumber yard in Glasgow.
"As soon as I saw it, I knew it was gone," said Charlie McQuown, a property neighbor and former Reade Township fire chief, who said he spotted a plume of smoke from his front door shortly after 12:30 p.m. and reported the fire to 911.
A friend phoned McQuown and said he could see the smoke from Skytop Mountain.
Responders said they arrived minutes later to see the concrete truss factory's roof fully involved.
A ladder truck was used to battle flames while fire crews from Cambria, Blair and Clearfield counties assisted on the ground, Reade Township Assistant Chief Mike Jenkins said.
"The wind was an issue, but there was nothing that could've been done to save it," he said afterward, noting no one was injured.
A utility pole caught fire and collapsed at the site, Jenkins said. Penelec was contacted, and the pole was safely doused.
Crews also were busy working to snuff out a burning pile of debris near the factory, and Jenkins said it may have been the cause of the fire. A state police fire marshal has been asked to investigate.
There was little left at the site, aside from a few sections of concrete walls on either side of the sprawling building and a few skeletons of manufacturing equipment, apparently left behind from the plant's better days.
"This used to be a busy place," said neighbor Jane Miller, recalling days when Hommer Lumber employed many in the area. The company shut its doors about five years ago, she said.
Other neighbors said the truss factory was purchased and renamed Custom Truss. It stayed busy until two years ago before it closed after a business slowdown.
The land and buildings are now owned by Dennis Storm of Ashville, according to several contractors who were working to tear down a dilapidated building nearby, a few hundred yards from the fire scene.
"I'm not sure what happened. ... [but] it must've happened quickly," said Cory Moyer, a Mid-State Drywall employee, who said he was returning from a lunch break around noon when he first spotted fire. "Just about the whole thing was in flames."
Another worker who identified himself as Storm's brother said his brother had been alerted about the fire earlier but had not arrived at the site by mid-afternoon.
Attempts to contact Storm for comment were unsuccessful late Wednesday.