Fire destroyed a long-time costume shop at 354 Layfield Road (Route 663) in New Hanover Township on Tuesday afternoon.
Firefighters were dispatched to Swann’s Costume shop at 2:20 p.m. for a report of smoke coming out of the windows.
Upon his arrival Sassamansville Fire Company Chief Ray Strickland found “heavy smoke coming out from every opening of the building.” He immediately called for additional units to help battle the blaze. Shortly after that, flames broke through the roof at the rear of the structure.
The shop has been in business since the 1960’s. According to Montgomery County property records, the site is owned by Kathleen and John Miller of Salisbury, Maryland.
With the recent conclusion of the Halloween season and preparation for the upcoming holiday festivities, the shop was packed with costumes, including dozens of Santa Claus suits.
Firefighters’ efforts were hampered by the heavy smoke and fire, as well as the inventory and layout of the shop. According to Strickland, when firefighters first arrived they attempted to enter through the front of the building and “push” the fire back. However, when the roof began to cave in over their heads, the volunteers were pulled out of the interior and firefighters focused on battling the blaze from the exterior of the building.
The fire was declared under control at 3:30 p.m.
The cause of the fire is being investigated by the Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshall and the New Hanover Township Fire Marshall. There were no reported injuries and no damage estimate was available, but Strickland said the building could be a complete loss.
Fire police detoured traffic on Route 663 between Layfield Road and Coleflesh Road for nearly four hours while firefighters battled the blaze. Fire company tank trucks ferried water from a hydrant at Big Road (Route 73) and Middle Creek Road, about one mile west of the fire scene.
Assisting Sassamansville and New Hanover fire companies were units from Gilbertsville, Green Lane, Pennsburg, Pottstown, Ringing Hill and Upper Frederick in Montgomery County; and Bally, Barto, Bechtelsville, Friendship Hook and Ladder of Boyertown and New Berlinville from Berks County.
A unit from the Collegeville was on standby for New Hanover Fire Company. Units from Bechtelsville and Upper Pottsgrove were on standby for Sassamansville.
Emergency medical service units responding to the scene were Gilbertsville Area Community Ambulance, Green Lane Community Ambulance and Lower Frederick Regional Ambulance.
A canteen unit responded from the Salvation Army.
Firefighters from Sassamansville and New Hanover were called to the scene at 7:19 on Wednesday morning to extinguish a minor re-kindle of the fire.