News

More than 30 departments fight massive overnight fire at Weaber's Saw Mill

Written by John Latimer and Merriell Moyer/The Lebanon Daily News | Aug 21, 2017 10:00 AM
weaber_mill_fire.jpg

More than two dozen fire departments and emergency personnel would eventually respond to a massive fire at Weaber's Saw Mill, 1231 Mount Wilson Road, in South Annville Township, that began just before midnight, Saturday, August 19. (Photo: Lawn EMS, Lebanon Daily News)

(Undated) -- No one was seriously hurt in a fire that burned so hot at Weaber's Saw Mill in South Annville Township this weekend that officials say they may never know the cause of the blaze that took 30 fire departments, 60-plus fire trucks and over 1.5 million gallons of water to douse.

The massive fire at Weaber's Saw Mill in South Annville Township began just before midnight, Saturday, August 19, according to EMS logs. 

Emergency personnel responded to the scene until after dawn.

"As we were responding to the scene, the glow in the sky was evident that there was a very serious fire occurring," Fire Chief Daniel Braden, of the Lawn Volunteer Fire Co., said. "Once we arrived on the scene we utilized the water supply onsite at the Weaber saw mill in addition to other pond fill sites we have in the area to supply enough water to battle the fire."

The fire, which started in a building housing a lumber kiln, required about 1.5 million gallons of water to put out, according to Braden.

"Their pond on site is 1.2 million gallons, and we used a fair bit from other fill sites as well," Braden said. "We significantly drained the ponds - it was evident we were using large quantities of water."

The blaze from the kiln was large with a lot of heat and flames because the kiln was full of lumber when the fire started, Braden said.

"Due to the good working relationship we have with the people at the saw mill they were able to quickly cut the power to the facility and the other buildings surrounding it which allowed us to safely work and utilize large aerial master stream devices to put as much water on the fire as possible in a short amount of time," Braden said.

Braden had about 60 apparatus on hand to combat the blaze from 36 different fire departments, including many Lebaon County companies along with others from other counties including some from Linglestown and Hershey in Dauphin County and Bainbridge and Mount Joy in Lancaster County.

"We had one minor injury, but that was all," Braden said. "In an incident that large with so many people operating and so many various departments if you can get away with that minor of an injury that is a good day."

Saw mill employees also escaped the blaze unharmed, according to Braden.

The fire began in the 50-by-150 feet kiln building and extended to a small out building, both of which were lost to the blaze. It spread to a third building, but the firefighters were able to stop it there.

"The third building is comparable in size to the kiln building, and it was full of saw dust," Braden said. "We were able to stop the fire in that building and keep it from igniting the large amount of saw dust inside."

There was no damage estimate available and the cause of the fire has not been determined, Braden said.

"Often it is difficult to determine cause in fires such as this one because the damage is so extensive and there is really nothing left," said Braden. "When the fire gets that hot it actually melts metal and it is very difficult to pinpoint any certain area."

Braden expressed his gratitude to the many fire companies and their volunteers who came out to help fight the fire.

"I, as the chief officer of the Lawn Volunteer Fire Co., can't be appreciative enough of the support we received from the other departments and the commitment of every single volunteer that gave up his or her time to come out and do their duty to their community to keep it safe and protect lives and property," Braden said.

Founded in 1941, Weaber Lumber is family-owned company and one of the nation's leading hardwood lumber producers. Its products include surfaced four sides "S4S" boards, flooring and moulding products.

Fire crews have frequently responded to fires at Weaber's over the years, including twice within a two-month period last year and once in August of 2015.

 

This article is part of a content-sharing partnership between WITF and the Lebanon Daily News.

Published in Lebanon, News

Tagged under , , , , , , , ,

back to top

Give Now

Estate Planning

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »

Smart Talk

National Edward R. Murrow Awards

DuPont Columbia Awards

Support Local Journalism

Latest News from NPR

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »