The garbage has a familiar smell

Video: Crews douse 2-alarm Washington Twp. house fire after initial confusion


At first, Jeff Stone thought someone was just burning something, but the whole thing didn't feel quite right.

"It didn't smell like just wood, y'know?" said the Washington Township resident.

He was right. A home in the first block of Bentz Mill Road in Washington Township the neighbors say has been vacant for a couple of years had caught ablaze Saturday morning, in what would end up being a two-alarm fire call that saw some confusion when it was first dispatched.

Stone took matters into his own hands, grabbing a garden hose, kicking in the door, and trying to fight the fire where it appeared to have started in the first-floor bathroom, he said.

"I went in and tried to spray some water on it," he said.

That's when part of the ceiling fell down, he said, prompting him to get out of there. As firefighters battled the flames about 45 minutes after crews were dispatched, the bearded, shirtless Stone showed off a nickel-sized off-white blister where something hot had got a piece of him on the back of his left shoulder.

Some initial confusion with the call delayed emergency responders' arrival to the fire, Wellsville Fire Chief Larry Anderson acknowledged. The original call came in at about 9:35 a.m., and crews were quickly dispatched within two minutes, he said. But they were sent to Bentzel Mill Road in Manchester Township, rather than Bentz Mill Road in Washington Township, according to York County 911.

Anderson said county control dispatched his crews about 10 minutes after that, when the original responders figured out they had the wrong address.

"It's unknown what caused that" confusion, he said. The chief said it was being investigated at the county level.

Wellsville Fire chief Larry Anderson said the cause of the fire and where it started were still undetermined, and that the investigation remained ongoing. But there was no reason to believe it was suspicious, he said.

Anderson said the fire had caused about $40,000 to $50,000 in damage to the home, which would likely end up being a total loss.

Smoke: Nachelle Whitmoyer lives right next door; she was one of several people to call 911 after she saw dark smoke billowing out of the house next door.

"It was so black," she said.

Smoke billowing from the house rolled across the open fields behind it as emergency personnel put water on the flames.

Whitmoyer, who works for York Newspaper Company, and other neighbors said the house had sat vacant since the elderly man who lived there had passed away a few years ago. She said a company had just bought the home in the past few weeks, and had begun to remodel it, as evidenced by the full dumpster that sat in its driveway.

The area had no fire hydrants, so tanker and engine trucks from various York and Adams county fire stations cycled water to a makeshift pool in a trap-like contraption rigged up by the firefighters; the water was then pumped out of that to the people battling the blaze.

The chief called it a "dry hydrant," and said the water the tankers brought to it came from a nearby pond just off of Carlisle Road.

Anderson said no one was hurt during the fire.