An Adams County mansion is a total loss after a massive four-alarm fire raged through the Straban Township home on Saturday morning.
The fire started just before 8 a.m. on the 800 block of Pond Bank Road, according to Adams County 911 records.
No one was home at the time of the blaze, said Heidlersburg Volunteer Fire Company deputy chief Wendell Herr, with the owner of the home currently in Texas.
Herr confirmed that no one was injured in the initial blaze, although several firefighters suffered minor slips and falls in the cold and freezing weather. No one needed to be transported by EMS, Herr said. No animals were inside the house itself, Herr said. A horse on the property’s farm was not injured.
According to the home’s online listings on Zillow and Realtor.com, the home measures approximately 9,900 square feet and is valued at over two million dollars.
The house is a total loss, according to Herr.
The blaze was originally reported to the Adams County Dispatch as a fire alarm, Herr said. Deputy Chief Herr responded to the scene in his personal vehicle and, upon arriving at the property, saw a fire breaking out from the front center of the massive house.
Herr immediately requested the dispatch of the working fires, then followed it with a second alarm, he said. Soon after, he called for the third and fourth alarms, as the house was again a mile-long driveway with no fire hydrants in the area.
Firefighters began attempting an offensive interior attack as they arrived, Herr said, but were pushed back by strong flames and the risk of collapse. The firefighters then moved on to a defensive attack, hitting fire from the ladder pipes of the ladder trucks and pipe jets from the outside.
More than 15 tankers were on hand to help with the water supply, drawing water from a pond in the driveway and another filling site near the Adams County 911 center, said Herr.
Herr estimated that around 50 to 60 firefighters were at the scene, with dozens of units from many departments in Adams, York, Frederick and Carroll counties.
With the size of the house and the volume of fires on arrival, firefighters were at a significant disadvantage, Herr said.
“The only thing that could have saved this house is a sprinkler system,” Herr said, explaining that the large rooms in the house allowed the fire to expand considerably before the fire department was even dispatched. “It was so far ahead of us.”
Herr recommended that owners of large homes consider sprinkler systems, which help contain the fire in individual rooms of a structure even before the blaze has started.
Firefighters also faced the challenges of icy and frigid conditions with a lot of snow on the ground, Herr said. The National Weather Service reported temperatures in the area below 25 degrees, according to the York Airport weather station.
Salt trucks have been ordered to salt the roads to prevent ice formation.