A brush fire that raged out of control at the Seedway in Upper Milford Township late Wednesday morning shot plumes of dark smoke into the sky that were visible from miles away. As of noon Wednesday, the thick, black smoke could be seen rising at least 150 feet in air, and winds carried it west for at least a dozen miles, an eyewitness said.
Callers to the Town and Country newspaper office on Kutztown Road – where the smoke was clearly visible – said they could see the smoke from as far as Pottstown.
The fire was first reported at 11:37 Wednesday morning at the property, located at 5901 Vera Cruz Road. Responding to the call were fire companies from Macungie, Alburtis, Pennsburg, Topton, South Whitehall, Lower Saucon, Vera Cruz, Lower Milford, Milford, Upper Milford, East Greenville, Hereford and Trexlertown. EMS responders came from Macungie and Emmaus.
Firefighters working to battle the blaze stretched hoses from the ponds at the Seed Farm, an agricultural business incubator located across the street, and filled tanker trucks on the farm property.
Anton Shannon, owner of Good Work Farm, who was working at the Seed Farm when the fire broke out, said that initially he didn’t think much about the smoke and thought someone might just be burning debris. “It didn’t seem too bad at first,” he said. “But then it got louder and the smoke turned black. Just about when I could tell it was out of control, we heard the sirens…You could see the flames over the grain bins.”
According to reports, two buildings on the Seedway property were scorched during the fire, but did not appear burned. The extent of the damage was unknown as of presstime.
Seedway produces farm and turf seed at its location in Vera Cruz, just outside of Emmaus. According to its website, the Seedway is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year as a vegetable, farm and turf seed supplier. The company first came to Vera Cruz in 1974 when it began leasing land owned by Lehigh County that formerly comprised a portion of the Seem Seed Farm. Seedway purchased the land from the county last year. Seedway also has other locations in Pennsylvania, New York, Florida and Vermont.