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Propane rail-terminal fire near Mount Joy contained - abc27 WHTM

Propane rail-terminal fire near Mount Joy contained

Posted: Updated:
Photo courtesy of Intelligencer Journal/New Era Photo courtesy of Intelligencer Journal/New Era
Photo courtesy of Intelligencer Journal/New Era Photo courtesy of Intelligencer Journal/New Era
MOUNT JOY, Pa. (WHTM) -

As many as 150 firefighters and hazardous materials crews from three counties responded to a fire involving a rail terminal in Rapho Township, Lancaster County.

The two-alarm fire, which Lancaster County EMA now calls "minimal," has died down drastically from its initial volatility.

Lancaster Propane Gas CEO Paul Wheaton believes the blaze at the Maibach Propane Rail Terminal, initially thought to involve a propane tanker, was caused by a faulty ball valve on a compressor used to unload fuel.

Ten tanker cars had been connected to the terminal near the intersection of Maibach Lane and Route 230, about two miles east of Mount Joy, and each of the tanker cars were believed to be carrying between 40,000 and 60,000 gallons of butane.

By 2:30 p.m., officials said the tanker cars had been disconnected from the terminal, but an estimated 30,000 gallons of butane in the lines continued to burn. They expected the fire to burn itself out in about three hours.

Authorities said the incident remained a "very severe" situation for a number of hours. Firefighters were using water to cool the tankers because butane at its boiling point would cause a tanker to explode and take off "like a rocket," officials said.

They initially believed that the fire could have burned for days.

One injury was reported before crews responded to the fire at around 10:30 a.m. The man, later identified as employee John Wolgemuth, was taken to Lehigh Valley Burn Center in Allentown for treatment of burns. Wheaton says he's doing "much better" than initially expected, but no official condition has been released.

Fourteen people were evacuated from a hospice on Esbenshade Road and taken to Lancaster General Hospital as a precaution. Eight other businesses in an immediate three-block are were also evacuated.

That evacuation order has since been lifted.

Amtrak temporarily suspended all service between Lancaster and Harrisburg, but has since resumed.

According to Mount Joy's borough's website, no boil water advisory has been issued.

Crews will stay at the scene overnight to monitor the situation.

OSHA and the Department of Labor will investigate, accompanied by an internal investigation by the company.

Some photos courtesy of Intelligencer Journal/New Era.

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