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Dozens displaced after Econo Lodge blaze damaged at least 16 rooms

Ron Musselman
York Dispatch
Fire crews battlle a two-alarm fire at the Econo Lodge, 222 Arsenal Road, Manchester Township,  Wednesday, July 28, 2020. 
John A. Pavoncello photo

A two-alarm fire Wednesday afternoon at the Econo Lodge in Manchester Township caused extensive damage to one wing and displaced at least 65 people, a fire official said.

Chief Daniel Hoff, of York Area United Fire and Rescue, said Thursday a state police fire marshal is investigating the cause of the blaze. He called the fire accidental and said it started in a first-floor room at the motel. 

Hoff did not offer a damage estimate, other than to say, “there was a lot of it.”

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Fire crews rest after battling a two-alarm fire at the Econo Lodge, 222 Arsenal Road, Manchester Township,  Wednesday, July 28, 2020. 
John A. Pavoncello photo

“At this stage of the game, I wouldn’t even want to venture a guess as to the damage,” he said. “But I’m going to say there were probably at least 16 rooms between the first and second floors that suffered some sort of smoke damage.” 

Hoff said three firefighters, two from his department and another from York Township, were treated and released from the hospital Wednesday night after suffering from heat-related issues.

No injuries were reported at the scene, and all of the residents and guests of the motel were evacuated safely, the fire chief said.

The fire was reported about 2:49 p.m. at the motel in the 200 block of Arsenal Road, according to York County 911. Hoff said it took less than an hour to get the blaze under control. 

“One of the key things that helped us, I am convinced of, is the person that lived in the room where the fire started, when she left the building she shut the door,” Hoff said.

“Even though we had a heck of a smoke condition, by her shutting the door, that held the fire to that room and kept it from extending further throughout the building.”

Fire crews exit from  the Econo Lodge, 222 Arsenal Road, Manchester Township following a two-alarm fire,  Wednesday, July 28, 2020. 
John A. Pavoncello photo

Multiple companies helped battle the blaze in temperatures that were near 90 degrees. Hoff said that made the task a little more difficult.

“It increased the fatigue factor, and your work time is significantly reduced,” he said. “That’s why we were pretty quick to call the second alarm. 

“We knew in the summer heat, especially at a commercial occupancy like we had, to fight the fire and accomplish the searches, we knew guys were going to fatigue and we were going to have to back them up.”

Hoff’s number of 65 people displaced by the fire differs from those provided by the Central Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Spokesperson Lisa Landis said Thursday morning the organization  was providing assistance, including shelter, resources and casework, to 110 people who are permanent residents of the motel.

“We accounted for 65 people in the wing that was damaged that were displaced,” Hoff said. “Their number may include some people from other parts of the hotel where there were some other issues.”

Landis said the Red Cross is assisting 35 families from the fire at Econo Lodge, including 70 adults and 40 children.

“I’m not sure how they handle their count,” Landis said. “A lot of times, it’s a little bit gray, because there might be some folks who are displaced for a day or so because of smoke damage. 

“There are so many variables to factor in, but at this time, we are providing shelter in this day and age of COVID-19 at a different facility for these folks.”

Reporter Lindsay VanAsdalan contributed to this story. 

— Ron Musselman can be reached at rmusselman@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @ronmusselman8.