Explosion heard, felt around York County

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

Seven people in the greater York area called the York County 911 Center after hearing a loud explosion Thursday morning, officials said.

Even more took to social media.

Residents of North York, West York, West Manchester Township, York City, Dover Township, Emigsville and Windsor all commented on Facebook that they heard a "boom" shortly before 7 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 30.

An explosion occurred in a shredder (pictured) at J&K Salvage on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017, according to an employee there. 
(Bill Kalina photo)

Some said their homes shook from the blast.

Two local fire chiefs said the explosion came from J&K Salvage at 1099 Kings Mill Road in Spring Garden Township, which is just off Richland Avenue.

'Commotion': "It obviously caused some commotion this morning," York City Fire Chief David Michaels said. "A lot of people called into 911."

Normally when residents report hearing explosions, fire-and-rescue officials look for a malfunctioning electrical transformer, he said.

"But we got word it possibly could have been from J&K, so our captain responded there to check," Michaels said, and the captain determined that's where the "loud boom" came from.

"(J&K workers) confirmed they were doing normal operations, and that's what it was," Michaels said.

West Manchester Township Fire Chief Clif Laughman said his department investigated as well and determined J&K Salvage was operating normally.

"They have the proper permits, and they were conducting normal business," Laughman said.

Authorized: York Area United Fire and Rescue Chief Dan Hoff said J&K Salvage is authorized to be doing what it's doing.

"They're not doing anything wrong," he said. "Basically, they're putting (scrapped) cars through their grinder and grinding them up."

After Thursday morning's "boom," Hoff sent a YAUFR battalion chief to the salvage yard, "to meet with the owner and get a good sense of what's going on."

The battalion chief was satisfied that there was no fire hazard at J&K, according to Hoff, who said he didn't hear the explosion but knows sometimes the noises coming from the scrapyard can get loud.

Vapor issue: "This time of year, even though they’re draining fuel tanks and doing everything they’re supposed to do, they can get a pocket of flammable vapor left in the tanks (of scrapped vehicles)," Hoff said.

When those tanks go through the grinder, they make an explosive noise, officials said. 

Hoff said YAUFR crews do get called to J&K "every once in a while, when one of their (scrap) piles smolders a little bit."

He said that's not a particularly frequent occurrence.

Houses shook: York County spokesman Mark Walters said seven calls came into the 911 center between 6:54 a.m. and 7:35 a.m. about the noise.

Some of the callers said their houses shook, others suspected gunfire, according to Walters.

Calls came in from as far as Manchester Township and Windsor Township, he said.

Messages left Thursday morning with J&K Salvage and Spring Garden Township's manager were not immediately returned.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.