EDGMONT — A 100-year old dorm building at the closed Sleighton Farm School near the corner of Valley and Forge roads went up in flames Monday morning.
Nobody was injured in the fire which was reported at 7:30 a.m. First arriving firefighters arrived to find the roof and second floor of the 'L' building ablaze and began a defensive attack on the fire.
Ron Gravina, Edgmont Fire Company officer in charge, said the fire was burning from one end to another when crews arrived. Only one fire hydrant is reliable in the complex so firefighters had to lay hose nearly a half mile to a hydrants, he said.
Mark Kirchgasser, Middletown Council chairman and Middletown firefighter, said crews immediately went into a surround and drown mode of battling the blaze because there was no threat of loss of life.
Kirchgasser said firefighters believe the fire began at 3 or 4 a.m. but the smoke was unseen during the cloudy, rainy morning hours until it burst through the slate roof about 7:30.
Kirchgasser said the property straddles both townships, but the building that burned was in Edgmont. He said the property has been vacant for many years and there have been issues with vagrants and vandalism on the site as well as used needles found.
There have been two other serious fires on the property in the past 10 years, one in 2012 and a second in 2014, which destroyed other buildings on the property. The townships have been in negotiations with Elwyn Institute which now owns the property over development.
Kirchgasser said the fact that the buildings, most of which were built in 1909, are considered historic has complicated the issue.
Kirchgasser said once firefighters had the bulk of the fire extinguished, they would tear the build apart with a wrecker to reach hidden hotspots.
Concordville, Brookhaven,Chester Heights, Rocky Run, Middletown, Newtown Square and Goshen Fire Company in Chester County were among the many units which handled the blaze.
The cause is under investigation.