Fire destroys Hovis Truck Service main building

The Emlenton Volunteer Fire Department on late Sunday morning works at the scene of a fire that destroyed the main building of Hovis Truck Service.

No one was hurt in a multi-alarm fire that destroyed the main building of Hovis Truck Service, on the Emlenton-Clintonville Road in Emlenton, early Sunday morning.

According to Emlenton Volunteer Fire Department Chief Trevor Hile, fire departments from five counties were dispatched to the scene for a blaze that was “well involved” by the time Emlenton firefighters, the lead crew on the scene, arrived after being dispatched at 4:01 a.m.

“There were a number of vehicles in the building, and they also stock tires and batteries; so it was quite a fuel load that took a pretty high gallon per minute to overcome,” Hile said. “The building was a total loss,” and the cause for now is “undetermined.”

Complicating matters, he said, was the fact there are no fire hydrants in the area, which meant “we had to draft water from different sources and truck water to the scene.”

According to Hile, the main building served as a repair garage and auto parts store, and housed towing and salvage equipment as well as a number of offices. The fire was confined to that building.

Hile said the icy roads “in some places” could have made response to the scene early Sunday morning difficult, but the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation “was quick to get the road treated for us.”

According to Hile, the following fire departments from the following counties responded:

Venango: Emleton, Clintonville, Rockland, Kennerdell, Seneca, Sandycreek and Polk; Clarion: St. Petersburg, Knox, Perry Township, Callensburg, Sligo, Rimersburg and Shippenville; Butler: Eau Claire, Bruin, Marion Township, North Washington, Harrisville, West Sunbury, Petrolia, Chicora and Slippery Rock; Armstrong: Parker; Mercer: Pine Township. Emlenton Ambulance Service also responded.

The scene, Hile said, was cleared around noon.

A primary reason for the need of so many departments, Hile said, was because volunteer fire departments across this part of the state are facing staffing shortages.

“You have to call more mutual aid to assist because each department shows up with fewer and fewer people,” he said. “It’s especially true when you run into a large commercial building like this one and depend on help from your neighboring communities.”

The blaze, Hile said, weighs especially hard on the Emlenton firefighters because of the bond between them and Hovis Truck Service employees.

“We work so closely with them; so it’s difficult with our guys because they always assist us with wrecks, especially on Interstate 80,” he said. “We’re keeping them and their families in our thoughts and prayers.”

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