Hundreds respond to fire at Donsco in Wrightsville

Hundreds of firefighters from all over York County and beyond responded to the scene of a facility fire in Wrightsville on Friday, June 1, and stayed there for hours, returning to the scene on Saturday, fire officials said.

Crews returned to Donsco, on Front Street in Wrightsville, Saturday morning to put out hot spots on the roof, Eastern York County Emergency Management Coordinator Phil Smith said.

Three firefighters and one employee of Donsco were checked for heat exhaustion and dehydration while fire crews battled a blaze on Friday. Other than that, no one else was injured, according to Smith.

The fire was ruled accidental, Smith said. He did not have a damage estimate on Saturday.

Fire: Crews were called to the scene at 10:41 a.m. Friday and encountered heavy smoke. Wrightsville Fire and Rescue Co. said in a Facebook post around 1 p.m. Friday that the fire was under control.

Smith estimated about 100 employees evacuated the building Friday morning.

One worker was missing initially, but firefighters found him and got him out safely, according to the fire company Facebook page.

“They had their evacuation routes that were handled appropriately and tremendously,” Smith said, adding that everyone was accounted for in a short period of time. 

At one point, reporters were pushed back from the scene because of the potential for explosions at the site. Smith told reporters about an hour later that there was no longer a concern.

The foundry has vats of molten metals cooled with copper piping, but with the power off, the cooling wasn't happening on Friday, Smith said, causing a risk of explosion. 

Fire crews and Donsco employees spent hours Friday moving the vats of molten around to be able to put out the fire, he said.

The building is located along the Susquehanna River, but Smith said the waterway won't be affected.

“Everything is contained, and nothing got into the river," he said.

Donsco, according to its website, is a provider of machined iron castings and has been operating for more than 100 years.

Metal siding 'ignited': Jim Switzenberg, operating partner for the John Wright Restaurant, which is located next to the Donsco building, said he saw thick black smoke coming from the building just before his business' 11 a.m. opening.

"After about 20 minutes of that, the metal siding (on the Donsco building) ignited," he said. 

Switzenberg knew that the utilities for the restaurant weren't located near the Donsco building, so he figured that the business should be OK. Fire officials did ask employees to move their cars from the parking lot closest to the Donsco building.

The smoke could be seen from several miles away.

Switzenberg said he was expecting 400 to 500 people at the restaurant for various events Friday, and the fire shouldn't affect that. Some fire engines had hoses running through the parking lot of the restaurant, but other than that the restaurant isn't affected.

Standing outside taking pictures of the fire was Charles Morfin, a cook at the Burning Bridge Tavern, which also is located near the Donsco facility.

Morfin, who also lives near the facility, said he was at a nearby bank when he saw the smoke. Thinking his home might be affected, he rushed to the scene.

“When I saw the smoke at the bank, I ran back to get my little doggie,” he said.

Morfin, a former EMT, commended the emergency response.

"I think the emergency response ... was absolutely amazing," he said.

Fire departments from Lancaster County and York County as well as the York County Hazardous Materials team were on the scene.


Crews fight a fire at Donsco, which makes machine ironed castings, at 124 N. Front St. in Wrightsville Friday, June 1, 2018. Chris Dornblaser photo.