A five-alarm fire Wednesday at Scully Welding Supply Corp. in Collingdale, Pa., quickly spread out of control, extending to neighboring business, Kaiser’s Storage Center, and destroying 80 self-storage units.
Hundreds of shards of flying metal and chunks of concrete rained down from the explosive fire. Eighty of Kaiser’s Storage Center’s 350 self-storage units were destroyed by fire. Others were damaged by smoke and water.
Owner George Kaiser and several tenants sifted through the smoldering remains on Thursday, looking for salvable items among the soot and charred clutter.
Fire investigators don’t yet know the cause of the fire, which sent shrapnel and exploding propane tanks into the air. It’s believed the fire, which began at 1 p.m. and raged for hours, may have started as an accident at the plant. Homes and nearby businesses were evacuated. There was concern about a 30,000 gallon and 18,000 gallon propane tanks located in the back of the plant.
More than 300 emergency workers from 30 companies in Delaware County and surrounding communities battled the blaze for more than three hours. Several people were injured in the fire, including one Scully employee and five firefighters who suffered heat-related illness. Residents were allowed to return to their homes around 7 p.m.
Kaiser was at the facility when the fire began at the plant. He and his wife also have a home on the property. Kaiser, who’s also the Collingdale fire marshal, predicts the total loss at the property will be well over $1 million. Kaiser also lost personal property, including two antique fire trucks, his father's farm truck, and memorabilia from his 27 years in the Navy and Navy Reserve.