MOUNT PLEASANT (KDKA) — Investigators are searching for the cause after fire damaged a manufacturing plant in Westmoreland County on Friday evening.
The flames and smoke were intense and caused part of the building to collapse.
The windy conditions fueled the fire at EHC Industries in Mount Pleasant. Multiple fire companies had to be dispatched to the scene to knock down the flames.
Hours after fire erupted at the Industrial Street metal fabrication plant, yellow and red flames could be seen poking through the roof of what use to be the offices.
The thick smoke billowed with a strong odor.
“What aluminum or metal would smell like is bad,” said Karyssa Gault, an eyewitness. “I mean, we were walking through the smoke and I couldn’t breathe really.”
Firefighters got the call around 4 p.m. It was just 15 minutes after the last person had locked up early to celebrate the season.
“We were supposed to be at our Christmas party at 6:30 tonight,” said Randy Miller, the co-owner of EHC Industries.
But instead, Miller and the rest of the workers spent their Friday watching their workplace burn.
“I had just gotten home, and then that’s when my son had called me back and said, ‘Hey Dad, the place is on fire,’” said Miller.
Dozens of firefighters on scene worked quickly to minimize the damage.
“We were able to maintain or keep the fire contained to the offices,” said Chief Richard Kepple, of the Midway/St. Clair Fire Department. “We stopped it from spreading into the warehouse area.”
Most of the expensive welding and laser-cutting equipment was saved. There was some concern that flammable tanks would explode, but fortunately, no one was hurt.
The offices were a total loss, but the owner of the company says that they do have insurance and plan to rebuild.