Blaze destroys shop, man escapes uninjured

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By Chris Sardelli

Only a charred, burned-out shell remained hours after a blaze tore through a shop building along a quiet county street over the weekend. 

Firefighters and sheriff’s deputies both responded to a 911 call about a structure fire just before 3:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, in the 3100 block of George Carnes Road, according to a Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office incident report. 

A responding deputy noted the shop was fully engulfed in flames when he arrived at the scene. 

Members of the Buford, Tradesville and Unity volunteer fire departments also responded to the scene, but were unable to extinguish the blaze, the report said. 

Minutes after responding, multiple firefighters in turnout gear were seen spraying various parts of the shop with water, though flames continued to shoot between five and 10 feet from the roof. Dense gray smoke also billowed from the area. 

Deputies also noticed there were live ammunition rounds exploding in the fire and immediately moved everyone back to a safe distance, the report said. 

A 46-year-old man at the scene told deputies he had been staying in the shop temporarily and was trying to light a fire in a fireplace. He used a small amount of gasoline to ignite wood in the fireplace, but once it ignited, the fireplace blew up, the report said. 

The man then ran from the shop and was unable to extinguish the fire. 

Lancaster County Fire Marshal Stephen Blackwelder said no one was injured and the fire is considered accidental. 

“He poured about one cup of gasoline in a wood stove and it pretty much exploded and lit a nearby chair on fire,” Blackwelder said. “He tried to get the chair out of the building, but couldn’t, and it burned down the three-car garage building.”

The shop owner, who lives in a home next to the shop, said the building and its contents were valued at $75,000. Inside the shop were firearms, a Jeep and miscellaneous items.

The woman also said there were two dogs inside the shop, though the dogs were not immediately found, the report said. Blackwelder did not know Tuesday afternoon what happened to the dogs. 

After reviewing the incident, Blackwelder cautioned that gasoline should never be used to start a fire in any circumstances. 

“Gasoline is very volatile and puts off vapors. It can find a heat source with no trouble and ignite,” he said. 

Davidson Road fire 

A day later, on Feb. 3, deputies were called to a fire inside a double-wide mobile home in the 3500 block of Davidson Road, according to a separate sheriff’s office report. 

A deputy responded to the scene at about 6:20 p.m. and reported seeing flames shooting through the roof of the home. 

Members of the Flat Creek, Kershaw and Rich Hill volunteer fire departments were already on the scene tackling the fire, the report said. 

While firefighters extinguished the fire, deputies spoke with a neighbor who called 911.

The woman told deputies she was in her kitchen when she noticed an orange glow. She walked outside and saw her neighbor’s house was on fire, the report said. 

She said the owner recently left and she didn’t think anyone was inside. No one was injured.

Blackwelder said it appeared the fire started in a laundry room and it did not seem suspicious.

“The man told us he started a load of laundry in his dryer and then went to a Super Bowl party,” Blackwelder said. “When firefighters arrived, it (the fire) was venting through the roof.”

Damage to the mobile home is estimated at $40,000. Blackwelder said the home was completely destroyed.

“It is not livable and is pretty much gutted throughout,” he said. 


 Contact reporter Chris Sardelli at (803) 416-8416