MILTON — Four firefighters and one fire police officer were taken by ambulance this morning from the scene of an industrial building fire at 250 Mahoning St., a blaze that generated clouds of heavy black smoke that could be seen for miles.
The nature of the firefighters' injuries or conditions were not available at the scene, but they were transported to area hospitals, emergency officials at the scene said.
By 11:30 a.m., the smoke was beginning to clear and firefighters appeared to be gaining control over the blaze. Snorkel trucks were being used to spray water from high positions above the roof into the building. Meanwhile, the heavy black smoke appeared to be clearing a bit just before 11:30 a.m.
At 11:45 a.m., emergency officials were calling for crews from several area fire departments to monitor air quality levels in the area of the fire. Initial air quality checks did not indicate any major problems, officials at the scene said.
Firefighters from several communities in Northumberland, Union, Snyder and Lycoming counties worked to knock down the fire, which at one point, generated smoke that billowed from every window of the former H. Warshow industrial building in Milton.
Earlier this morning, the smoke over Milton could be seen from just north of Northumberland, a distance of about 11 miles. Hundreds of spectators gathered along the streets near the fire scene, but at the height of the fire, they could see only about 50 yards because of the thick smoke.
The fire apparently was sparked by a work crew removing old industrial equipment from inside the vacant building. The seven workers were using torches to cut pipes when a portion of the wall ignited, according to witnesses at the scene. The fire moved quickly up the wall into the ceiling then spread throughout the building.
All of the workers escaped safety.
Milton Mayor Ed Nelson said this morning that the fire represents a huge loss to Milton because it appears to have destroyed an industrial facility that could have housed a future employer in the community.
Most of the firefighting operations were wrapping up around 2:30 p.m. Fire officials said that Mahoning Street likely would remain closed throughout the afternoon and into the evening. Detours will be posted.