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Fire hits furniture shop in Pa.

March 30, 1999

Woodshop FireBy DON AINES / Staff Writer, Chambersburg

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer




NEW FRANKLIN, Pa. - A Monday morning fire heavily damaged a Guilford Township furniture shop, but friends and neighbors were on hand to help the owner rebuild.

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"Everybody needs a support system like we have," said Richard Hess, owner of Hess Custom Woodcraft at 1665 New Franklin Road. A member of the Old German Baptist faith, he was confident his business would soon reopen thanks to the help of his fellow brethren.

The two-alarm fire was called in at 9:56 a.m., according to the New Franklin Volunteer Fire Company. The cause of the fire was under investigation by the Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshal, Trooper Skip Sydnor said. He and Hess both said it was probably the result of outdoor burning on a windy day.

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Hess said trash was being burned behind the cinderblock and sheet metal shop. The fire spread to a sawdust bin and pile of scrap wood and then into the attic of the shop.

Firefighters said there was a tube from the attic to the sawdust bin that may have allowed the fire to reach the main building.

Bobby Albrecht, the deputy fire chief of the Fayetteville (Pa.) Volunteer Fire Company, said it took about 45 minutes to control the fire. He was working the fire in the attic when the roof trusses started to give way and firefighters were ordered to back out.

Albrecht had no dollar estimate on the damage, but said it was extensive. A couple of dozen members of the Old German Baptist faith were on hand after the fire, helping to move lathes, planers, saws and other machinery from the smoking building.

Hess said he had been in business about 30 years at the location, making cabinets and custom furniture. By the time firefighters from New Franklin and half a dozen other companies had cleared the scene in mid-afternoon, the damaged roof had been torn off and new trusses were expected today.

Hess said the damage was comparable to a 1993 fire at the shop. He said it took about two weeks for him to rebuild then.

"We keep it in perspective. Nobody was hurt ... It's things, not souls," he said.

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