Pa. Firefighters Injured at Tire Manufacturer Fire


Three firefighters were injured Wednesday while battling a large fire at an Indiana County tire manufacturer.

The fire started at the Specialty Tires of America plant in Indiana at 5 p.m.

Sky 4 flew over the scene, where flames and thick, black smoke billowed from the facility at 1600 Washington Street.

An explosion also occurred inside the building, police said.

"With the chemicals and the oils and things that we do, (the building) is very flammable. Fire is your worst enemy," said plant manager Mark Grant.

Pennsylvania State Police said the fire started in an attached building that was being used as a cold storage room.

"Thank goodness we had some steel doors in the there and some cement-block walls, which kept the fire from getting into another area of the plant, which really was a big, beneficial help to us," said Indiana Fire Department Chief Chuck Kelly.

Police said three firefighters were injured and taken to area hospitals for treatment, but did not specify the severity of their injuries.

Channel 4 Action News' Ari Hait reported that about 30 employees were inside the building at the time of the fire and tried to put the flames out before emergency crews arrived.

"They attempted to use our own fire equipment to try to manage the blaze," said Specialty Tires of America President Don Mateer.

Three employees were treated for smoke inhalation, Hait reported.

The plant was already shut down for routine maintenance, which meant only a fraction of the usual 100-plus employees was inside.

The plant is expected to reopen as normal on Sunday.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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