UPDATED STORY: http://www.shensentinel.com/news/massive-blaze-destroys-former-united-wiping-cloth-building-on-east-end
By Kaylee Lindenmuth | firstname.lastname@example.org
SHENANDOAH - Firefighters from four counties remain at the scene of a massive fire at a former garment manufacturing plant on the east end, three hours after flames first broke out.
Crews were called to the former United Wiping Cloth factory in the 200 block of East Lloyd Street around 4:00am, and, within about an hour, the fire raged out of control.
"We're trying to keep the fire contained from running up Bower," said Shenandoah Fire Marshal Rick Examitas around 6:30am. "We're concerned about it going up on Bower Street to the homes that are lived in there."
"Everyone is evacuated from the Bower Street side, but right now, that's our concern because of the wind and the water supply," Examitas added.
The fire, he said, was contained at that point to the United Wiping Cloth plant.
At one point, flames engulfed the structure and a mayday, or distress call, sounded.
"Everybody is accounted for at this point. There's no injuries reported at this time, and as far as we know, everyone is out of the building," Examitas said.
Crews from as far as Mount Carmel, Hazle Township, Schuylkill Haven, and Harwood were at the scene among dozens of other units.
In addition to the fire itself, bitter cold weather conditions posed a hazard for crews as well. Most surfaces around the fire scene remain covered in ice.
The firefight strained the Municipal Authority - Borough of Shenandoah water system, leading to the request for a tanker task force. A fill site was established at the Shenandoah Valley High School, prompting the school district to issue a two hour delay.
The fire also led to a power outage impacting 655 PP&L customers on the east end.
The Sentinel has been following this breaking story all morning and will have more as the story develops. Look out for a full photo gallery, video, and full story later today.
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