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Blaze destroys grain bin

June 30, 1998

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - About 100 firefighters from 13 companies were called to the scene of a grain bin fire early Tuesday in Hamilton Township, Pa.

The 3,000-bushel grain bin, which was destroyed, is the same one that caught fire on June 15, according to Franklin Volunteer Fire Co. Public Information Officer Denny Clopper. He said the cause of both fires was likely a malfunctioning grain dryer at the base of the bin.

The fire at the farm of Lee Lehman, 2065 Sollenberger Road, was called in at 12:52 a.m. and units were at the scene until 11:16 a.m. Clopper said flames were coming out of the base of the bin and rising 25 or 30 feet when the first units arrived.

"We ran about half a mile of hose to a pond on Sherry Drive. We almost sucked it dry," Clopper said. Pumper trucks were stationed along the way to keep the water pressure high, he said.

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Clopper said tanker trucks were also running between the scene and Chambersburg to get enough water to douse the fire.

"We didn't attack the fire itself," Clopper said. Instead, hoses were sprayed on the outside of the corrugated steel bin to keep it cool.

According to Clopper, grain bin and silo fires pose hazards from explosive methane gas and grain dust.

A hatch at the base of the bin was opened so the wheat would fall out. The grain that spilled out was then moved to a field. A grain auger was used to get more wheat out of the bin and into a dump truck.

Clopper said the remaining grain inside was soaked down.

Firefighters took turns fighting the blaze to avoid heat exhaustion, according to Clopper.

Companies from Chambersburg, New Franklin, Mont Alto, Greencastle, Fayetteville, St. Thomas, Marion, Shippensburg, Newburg, Letterkenny Army Depot and the Franklin County air unit assisted the Franklin Fire Company.

- Don Aines

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