By Sean Yoder
Fire crews first got the call at 8:37 a.m., according to Indiana County 911.
Indiana Fire Association Rescue Squad Captain Ron Moreau said his was the second truck on the scene of a hot and smoky blaze at the publishing plant on U.S. Route 422/Philadelphia Street about a half mile west of Indiana borough.
“It’s basically an all-steel building, steel roofs and steel walls,” he said. “So when they heated up the oven, it got real hot in there,” he said. “Smoke was pouring from all corners of this building, every window. And if you can imagine the square footage of this structure, and there’s that much black smoke, there’s nothing to save at that point.”
The fire may have started at a printing press, Moreau said. An employee attempted to put out the fire with an extinguisher but soon gave up and helped evacuate the building.
Just after 9 a.m., some chemical containers popped and burnt, audible outside the building. Moreau said the chemicals could have been inks, cleaning solvents or lubricants for the machines.
Much of the building was buckled or close to collapsing, Moreau said shortly after noon. Hotspots continued burning inside the structure. Black smoke streamed out its western side. Fire officials brought in heavy machinery to bring out some of the wreckage and to assess what was still burning.
Crews pumped foam into the building to smother hotspots and prevent fuel from reigniting the blaze.
Four firefighters were taken to the hospital with unknown injuries.
Hear Sean Yoder’s interview of Indiana Fire Association Rescue Squad Captain Ron Moreau at Tuesday’s fire scene: Ron Moreau Interview MP3.mp3