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Ferocious fire destroys buildings at Carlisle complex - abc27 WHTM

Cumberland County

Ferocious fire destroys buildings at Carlisle complex

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CARLISLE, Pa. (WHTM) -

State police and the federal ATF agents have begun investigating the cause a massive overnight fire that destroyed at least two buildings and damaged several others at the former Lear complex in Carlisle.

The fire was so severe, however, that investigators may never be able to determine what started it.

More than 100 firefighters from five counties responded to the blaze shortly after 10 p.m. Wednesday and fought for hours to bring it under control by 5 a.m., but the ruins continued to smolder into Thursday afternoon.

"I've never seen a fire this big, and that much smoke going up into the clouds it's like the whole factory is burning down," John West said as he watched the flames. "Who knows what they what they were storing in there, maybe that's what's keeping the flames going."

Several booms were heard throughout the night. It's believed propane tanks stored inside the buildings exploded.

"It was scary, all of the cracking and booming," neighbor Shirley Alexander said. "I'm still a little shook up."

Several residents who live along Fairground Avenue were evacuated as a precaution because of the heat from the flames, smoke in the air, and water from the dozens of fire companies on the scene. The heat from the fire was so intense that it melted vinyl siding on the homes.

Over the years, several businesses have occupied the complex near Spring Road; including Lear, Masland Carpets, and most recently International Automotive Components, or IAC.

Carlisle Events, the owners of the fairgrounds, bought the property in November of 2010 and planned to redevelop it.

"We've had some construction crews over the past few month removing non-essential scrap, but at this time we have no idea what would have caused a fire like this," said Michael Garland, a spokesman for Carlisle Events.

"Bricks, mortar, steel and concrete can be replaced, but a human life can not," Carlisle Events co-owner Lance Miller said in a statement. "I'm very happy to know that no one was injured.  The multiple fire companies on scene played a crucial role in saving many neighborhood homes and for that I commend them."

Carlisle Events said it has teamed up with the Carlisle branch of the Salvation Army to aid residents who may have been displaced.

Anyone who was displaced, or those interested in help, may either stop by the Carlisle location at 20 East Pomfret Street or call 249-1411.

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