Fire destroys $1 million home in E. Coc. Township

By on April 9, 2014

A two-alarm fire destroyed a $1 million home under construction in East Cocalico Township Thursday morning, fire officials said.

The owner/founder of Four Seasons Produce, David Hollinger, and his wife, Debbie, had planned to move into the largely-finished, 6,600-square-foot home in September, according to an Intelligencer Journal article.

Neighbors reported the 3:30 a.m. blaze at 755 White Oak Road.

Wailing fire engine sirens woke members of the Hollingers’ two children’s families, who live nearby.

They called and alerted their parents, who have been living in a cottage on the same property while their new home was being built.

The home was back a long lane and burned for some time before anyone noticed, Smokestown Fire Chief Brian Auker said.

Flames filled the structure by the time firefighters arrived so they mounted a defensive, “surround-and-ground” exterior attack.

Early in the effort, the home partially broke apart and collapsed, he said.

The chief called for a second alarm for more tankers and manpower at 3:41 a.m.

Two fill sites for tankers was established at a pond near Reinholds Road and a hydrant at Reinholds Road and Brendan Drive. Eleven tankers shuttled water to the fire.

About 75 firefighters fought the blaze, Auker said. None were injured.

At least one apparatus got stuck in the saturated ground, he said. A trench dug next to the lane also limited firefighters’ options.

The wet ground helped prevent the fire from spreading to any brush, Auker said. Flames spreading to trees also was not a concern because no trees were directly next to the house.

Firefighters protected a brand new detached garage near the home from damage, Auker said. Some construction vehicles near the home suffered minor damage from the extreme heat.

Firefighters brought the fire under control shortly before 5 a.m., Auker said. White Oak Road was reopened to traffic at around 7:30 a.m., the article said.

The cause of the fire has not been determined, said Trooper Dustin Shireman, a state police fire marshal. He did not know where the fire started.

Mrs. Hollinger said she couldn’t imagine what may have caused a fire.

Her husband said he wonders if a space heater used by workers in the home may have sparked the blaze.

Damage to the home was estimated at $1 million, Auker and Shireman said.

Most of the home had been finished and drywall was being added, Mr. Hollinger said. Heating and air-conditioning equipment were in the home, but not appliances.

The home’s builder does have insurance on the home, Shireman said.

The house would have been an eye-opener. The first and second floors had 6,600 square feet, the article said.

Plans included a one-bedroom apartment on the first floor and a one-bedroom guest apartment upstairs.

The basement would have served as an apartment for short-term stays.

The couple also houses missionaries from time to time, and occasionally others who need a temporary place to stay, they said.

The former house at the site was in desperate need of repair, requiring large expenses such as a new roof and heating/air-condition system.

The couple decided instead to demolish it and build a new home that would better suit their needs, they said.

The Hollingers moved into a one-bedroom cottage last summer.

They expected to move into their new home in September, but now that will have to wait at least a year. A disappointment, but not a hardship.

Mr. Hollinger said he felt bad for the general contractor, Haller Builders, of Ephrata, and various subcontractors who had planned their work schedules this spring and summer.

David Hollinger said it was the fourth time he has had to deal with a major fire in his lifetime.

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