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Fire consumes paper recycler

September 03, 2005|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, PA.


Chambersburg Waste Paper Co. Inc. was all but destroyed Friday night by a fire that will leave the company's 75 employees without a place to report to work on Tuesday morning.

More than 75 firefighters from departments in five counties in Pennsylvania and Maryland responded to the early evening fire at 2047 Loop Road.

There were no injuries. Damage was estimated at more than $1 million.

The cause of the fire was unknown Friday night. Firefighters said they expected to be on the scene all night.

"This is going to be an all-nighter," said Troy Gelwicks, a member of Rescue Hose Co. No. 1 in Greencastle, Pa.

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Flames still were shooting high into the dark night sky at press time.

A large plume of gray smoke could be seen as far away as Hagerstown, about 20 miles south on Interstate 81.

The fire was discovered around 6:45 p.m., said Rich Bowers, company vice president. The plant, which recycles waste paper and cardboard, has been in business since 1974.

The company started operations in Chambersburg in 1974 and moved into a new 2,500-square-foot building on Loop Road in 1976. Overall, the facility covers 75,000 square feet, according to the company's Web site.

"They'll save the garage, but all else is a total loss," Bowers said as he stood watching his business go up in smoke.

James Hammond, chief of the Franklin Fire Department, the lead company on the scene, said firefighters were attacking the blaze on all sides with ladder trucks surrounding the building with streams of water.

A huge pile of baled paper or cardboard was burning furiously on the side of the burning building, as were more bales inside.

Dozens of large over-the-road box trailers were parked outside the fence leading into the plant. More, parked inside the fence near the fire, were being consumed by the flames.

Thomas Shoop, assistant chief of the Marion (Pa.) Fire Department, was serving as water supply officer Friday night. His job was to coordinate the convoy of tanker trucks making the Loop Road round trip run from Conococheague Creek to temporary holding tanks near the fire scene that fed the hoses off the ladder trucks.

A hydrant across U.S. 11 from Loop Road also was supplying water.

The plant has been a popular drop-off place for area residents, and businesses can trade their old magazines, junk mail, cardboard, office paper, newspaper and aluminum cans for cash.

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