ATF: 'Mass destruction' at York City's fatal fire scene

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

An ATF team continues to sift through rubble at the site of a fire and subsequent partial building collapse that killed two York City firefighters and injured two others.

On Monday, March 26, Special Agent Charlene Hennessy visited the old Weaver Piano & Organ Co.  building, 127 N. Broad St., and updated reporters about the investigation.

Emergency crews are still on the scene of a blaze at the former Weaver Organ & Piano Co. building on N. Broad Street, Thursday, March 22, 2018. John A. Pavoncello photo

Hennessy is public information officer for the Philadelphia field division of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

"There's mass destruction here," she said. "There's still a significant amount of debris ... to go through."

A team of ATF experts are, piece by piece, "methodically excavating layers" of that debris, she said.

As they do so, they are setting aside electrical components and appliances, which will be examined to see if one of them might have started the massive three-alarm blaze on Wednesday, March 21, Hennessy confirmed.

Two killed, 2 hurt: Firefighters Ivan Flanscha, 50, and Zachary Anthony, 29, were killed at the site Thursday, March 22, in a partial building collapse, city officials have said.

Two others — Assistant Fire Chief Greg Altland and Firefighter Erik Swanson — were injured in the collapse. They were rushed to York Hospital and will survive their wounds, officials have said.

Hennessy on Monday confirmed all four men were on the building's fourth floor when the collapse happened.

She declined to immediately release more details about the collapse.

Hennessy said the team had to take down a wall at the site because it was unsafe and could not be shored up.

She said the building won't be razed until after the fire's cause and origin are determined — or after the team "exhausts all leads" and is unable to find a cause.

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ATF team: The ATF team is comprised of a number of experts, including site mappers, electrical and civil engineers and ATF agents specially trained in fire investigation, she said.

At this point, the fire's cause and origin remain undetermined, according to Hennessy.

Making those determinations will take at least a week — and "most likely a few weeks," she said.

"Sometimes these take months to figure out," she told The York Dispatch. "And sometime we just don't get an answer."

The causes and origins of some fires remain undetermined for various reasons, Hennessy confirmed, including because evidence needed to make those determinations was destroyed by fire.

"We continue to work with our local partners, trying to determine this fire's cause and origin," she said.

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