A Tuesday night fire destroyed two sheds in West Manchester Township which housed containers of crude oil.
A Tuesday night fire destroyed two sheds in West Manchester Township which housed containers of crude oil. (Bil Bowden photo)

An oil fire at a West Manchester Township farmhouse on Tuesday destroyed two sheds and might have contaminated the ground.

The fire at a rental property at 1545 East Berlin Road was caused when the resident did a "very crude field test" on waste oil that is burned in a furnace to heat the home, said Dave Nichols, the township fire chief.

Before taking the oil into the home, the man conducted the test in which he put a flame just above the surface of the oil to make sure no other flammable liquids that burn at lower temperatures, such as gasoline, are mixed in with the oil, Nichols said.

The man conducted the test on oil that, unbeknownst to him, was contaminated with a secondary flammable liquid, touching off Tuesday's blaze. He was not injured.

Nichols said it's not known what was mixed in with the oil.

Fire crews were dispatched just before 2 p.m.

Possible contamination: The waste oil was stored in 50-gallon drums in the sheds, which were destroyed in the fire, Nichols said.

On Wednesday, an environmental consultant was at the scene to determine how much, if any, oil contaminated the ground and to start to clean up the mess.

"I'm sure there will be some ground contamination," Nichols said.

If some of the ground is contaminated, it will likely have to be excavated. Booms were put in place to absorb any oil and to prevent it from spreading, Nichols said.

Foam was used to get the fire under control, and crews worked to keep it from spreading. Firefighters then let the fire burn itself out.

Nichols said it's better to let such oil fires burn out because it cuts back on ground contamination.

No injuries were reported, and an estimate of damages was not available Wednesday.

West Manchester Township firefighters were assisted by crews from West York, Dover Township, Thomasville and York Township.

- Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.