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New Pig warehouse destroyed by fire

Building two of the New Pig Corporation in Tipton was destroyed by fire last night.
Just before 10 p.m. the Tipton-Antis Volunteer Fire Company responded to what was just smoke billowing out of the facility. Shortly after that, there was an explosion that blew an overhead garage door off.
“Shortly after we got here the fire broke through the side wall,” said Tipton-Anis Fire Chief Rob Harmon. “It broke through the overhead door and that is what got our trucks damaged.”
One truck from the Tipton-Antis Fire Department was completely destroyed and one was severely damaged. The destroyed truck was valued at $250,000.
Firefighters from four counties were on scene or providing support.
New Pig Corporation offers the largest selection of contained absorbants in the world.
At press time, equipment was being brought in to start taking off the walls of the structure to give the firefighters a chance to extinguish the spots of the facility that are still burning.
“We’ll be here all day,” said Harmon. “We’re going to start hitting all the hot spots and when we are done mopping up and the fire is completely out, we’re going home to an empty fire hall.”
According to on scene reports, within 20 minutes of the first response, there was an explosion and there were flames shooting out everywhere.
Between 40 and 50 pieces of fire equipment were on scene.
One firefighter from the Tipton-Antis Fire Department, Bob Dollar has been fighting fires for 31 years and the blaze last night was the worst he has ever seen.
“This is the worst by far,” said Dollar. “I’ve been doing this for 31 years and I have never seen anything quite like this before. When we first got here, there was just a little smoke coming from the building. I came in on the third piece of equipment and when I got off of it, that is when the garage door blew out. We had flame and smoke that came out probably 50 feet straight out. At that point we had three guys inside. All three of them did get out. At that point, it became a completely defensive fire. Surround it and drown it.”
Getting 200 firefighters from four counties working together as a cohesive unit is a chore.
“It was a fantastic effort,” said Dollar. “Everybody gave more than 150 percent effort. It was an incredible situation. People spend lifetimes on departments and never see anything like this. It was just incredible.”
Losing two trucks in a fire hurts the ability of the Tipton-Antis Fire Department to serve its community, but it will still be there.
“We’ve had three companies offer us equipment,” said Harmon. “Our trucks were insured. We’ll be working on getting a truck in as soon as we can to be ready. We’ll receive help from Bellwood and Tyrone in covering things in the short term.”
In spite of fighting a fire all night and losing their trucks, the firefighters are staying upbeat.
“It’s going to be real tough tonight when we go back,” said Dollar. “We’re going back to an empty fire house, but we’re still going to be having our Haunted House. We’re going to pick up where we left off. We can’t give in to this. It is something we have to do and make it work for us.”
When asked to reflect on the total combined effort of every firefighter, Dollar paused for a moment.
“I hope I never see anything like this again. The support has been incredible.”
Many organizations pitched in to help at New Pig.
As fire personnel battled the inferno at New Pig Corp. well into this early morning, a number of local organizations offered their assistance to emergency crews on the scene.
According to Dan Boyles, emergency services manager with the Blair County Chapter of the American Red Cross, a team of five ARC care workers were on scene from approximately 11 p.m. last evening to 5 a.m. today.
“We worked a pretty big operation through the night,” said Boyles. “Our unit, which is strictly for mass care, was providing food and beverages for the dozens of workers on that scene.”
According to Boyles, the team served more than 200 hot dogs, 150 MTO sandwiches, more than 10 gallons of coffee, four gallons of hot chocolate and 12 dozen donuts to personnel working on scene.
“Right now, we don’t have people at the scene,” said Boyles. “But we’re standing by waiting for word that they need us again. When they do, we’ll be there.”
The Salvation Army, Citadel Corps in Altoona, was on scene with its rolling canteen for about seven and a half hours.
“We were providing food services and offering assistance in any way that we could,” said Major Dennis Smullen. “We offered hot beverages, soups and snacks – basically, helping to keep these guys at the top of their game.”
According to Smullen, blankets and warm clothing was on stand-by should an emergency worker note a need for such items.
Theresa Yanchetz, marketing director of Tyrone Hospital said this morning that two people were treated and released from the hospital today in connection with the blaze. Altoona Hospital reported not seeing any patients in regards to the incident.
The company, which employs more than 300 workers was founded in 1985. It manufactures spill-absorbant products for plant maintenance, liquid management and industrial safety.
The overall loss at the New Pig warehouse is in the millions. The State Police Fire Marshall was on scene. The investigation could take days. New Pig officials were in meetings and were unavailable for comment at press time.