Units from 17 fire companies called to assist at massive blaze
Gilbertsville Fire Company was dispatched to a barn fire at 12:09 p.m. Friday in the 600 block of Congo Road in Douglass Township that, at its height, raised a large cloud of billowing smoke that could be seen from more than 10 miles away.
Callers to the Montgomery County Dispatch Center reported that the barn was fully engulfed in flames and that the fire was through the roof. Several loud explosions could be heard coming from the barn that housed several snowmobiles, ATVs, a boat and other vehicles.
Twenty-five minutes later a cottage, located a few feet from the large barn, where the owner’s mother resided, ignited from the intense heat and was also destroyed.
According to property owner Mark Akins, “I was outside for awhile and went back into the house … then I smelled smoke and went out and the barn was on fire.”
Firefighters were hampered by a long, narrow driveway that kept them taking fire trucks to the rear of the scene, forcing them to drag hoselines by hand to the fight the fire.
The fire was placed under control at 2:43 p.m. No injuries were reported and all of the horses that were housed in the barn were out in the fields at the time of the fire.
According to Montgomery County records, the property is owned by Mark and Barbara Akins. The cause of the fire was investigated by the Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshal and Douglass Township Fire Marshal Rick Smith.
The fire, which started on the second floor of the barn, was of an electrical origin and ruled accidental. No damage estimate was available.
Fire police units had Congo Road closed from Hoffmansville Road in Sassamansville to East Philadelphia Avenue in Gilbertsville.
Montgomery County fire companies assisting Gilbertsville included East Greenville, Limerick, Lower Frederick, New Hanover, Pennsburg, Perkiomen, Sassamansville, Skippack, Upper Frederick, Upper Pottsgrove and Worcester.
Fire companies responding from Berks County included Eastern Berks, Friendship Hook and Ladder of Boyertown, Liberty of New Berlinville, Hereford and Keystone of Boyertown. Norco Fire Company from Chester County also responded.
Emergency medical service units from Gilbertsville assisted at the scene. Also responding was a canteen unit from the Salvation Army.
Standing by at Pennsburg Fire Company were Bucks County units from Milford Township and Quakertown. Standing by for Gilbertsville were units from Harleysville and Linfield. Units from Ringing Hill and Sanatoga fire companies were assigned to handle New Hanover emergency calls.