HEMPFIELD TOWNSHIP (KDKA) –- Dozens of firefighters from Westmoreland and Allegheny counties spent hours battling a fire at a family-owned business in Hempfield Township Saturday.
Hazmat crews were also called to the scene because of hazardous chemicals in the building.
The blaze started around 10:30 a.m. at Graham Dairy Supply on Route 66. The flames quickly engulfed the building as well as the supplies inside.
“A lot of rubber products in there and laundry soap, and rubber gloves and boxes, looks like everything is a total loss,” said Nathan Graham, whose family owns the business.
The business sells milking equipment to dairy farmers in Pennsylvania and three other states. Two fork lifts were also destroyed and a fuel tank exploded.
“In the beginning, it was a defensive attack because we knew there was some chemicals involved in the building, a lot of plastics,” said Wayne Radebaugh, of the North Hempfield Fire Department.
The chemicals are considered mild, but could be dangerous if combined or ignited.
Some firefighters complained of itching skin and irritated throats. Hazmat units were called in from Westmoreland and Allegheny counties and all firefighters had to undergo decontamination.
The cause of the fire is under investigation and while the building and its contents were destroyed, the 71-year-old family business will remain in operation.