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Fire chief: Conewago Twp. home destroyed by fire, kerosene heater likely culprit

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
Firefighters respond to a structure fire on Lewisberry Road in Conewago Township Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. Bill Kalina photo

No one was hurt when fire destroyed a home in Conewago Township, a fire chief said.

Crews were called to the single-story home in the 6100 block of Lewisberry Road at 10:10 a.m. Monday, according to the York County 911 Center.

The 43-year-old man who had been living in the rental home for about 10 years was already outside and safe when crews arrived, according to Strinestown Fire Chief Frosty Wertz.

"We encountered heavy fire," Wertz said from the scene. "When we arrived here we had fire blowing across the street … probably because it was windy."

Firefighters initially went inside the burning mobile home but were ordered out just before the roof partially collapsed, the chief said, adding they likely were only inside for five minutes.

"As soon as we saw it looking like it was going to (fall), we pulled them out right away," Wertz said. "We had to back everybody out and just hit it from the outside."

Firefighters respond to a structure fire on Lewisberry Road in Conewago Township Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. Bill Kalina photo

Crews from Strinestown and York Area United had the blaze under control around 11 a.m., according to the chief.

The home is a total loss, Wertz said, and the American Red Cross' Greater Pennsylvania Chapter will be called in to assist if the resident indicates he needs any help.

Kerosene heater: "We believe at this point in time from information from the occupant that it was kerosene heater-related," the chief said — likely a malfunction. "He said he was working in the house when he heard something."

The resident investigated the noise and discovered a kerosene heater on fire, which he tried to douse with a fire extinguisher, the chief said.

"That did not work," Wertz said. "From his description … when he hit it with the extinguisher it blew flames against the wall."

The chief said that during the blaze, he called for extra tankers to haul water from a nearby hydrant, which technically made the fire two-alarm.

"We had plenty of water," Wertz said.

Firefighters hauled water to the scene from a hydrant rather than use the nearby Conewago Creek because the chief said he was told the creek was low.

Plus, he said, hydrants are always a reliable source of water.

It took until about 11 a.m. to bring the blaze under control, according to Wertz, who said crews remained on scene until after 1 p.m. doing overhaul and watching for hot spots.

"Everybody did their job," he said.

Strinestown and York Area United firefighters were assisted at the scene by crews from Dover Borough, Dover Township, Mount Wolf, Newberry Township and York Haven, the chief said.

Also, West Manchester Township Fire Department sent a ladder truck and Wellsville Fire Co. sent a tanker, he said.

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

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