Heavy flames and plumes of black smoke could be seen for miles Monday as firefighters battled a massive, explosive fire at a Montgomery County sheet metal plant.
The five-alarm fire began at Trico Metal Products, a sheet metal fabricator business on the 2300 block of Wyandotte Road in Upper Moreland around 5:20 p.m. Officials said there were reports of an explosion prior to the blaze.
A front wall and back wall of the facility collapsed as numerous explosions from overheated compressed gas cylinders inside the plant put responding firefighters at risk.
"There are no hazardous materials or anything that affected the community," said Willow Grove Fire Chief Brian Focht. "However, as a danger to firefighters there were multiple explosions and a building collapse."
The entire building as well as surrounding businesses and homes were evacuated. No injuries were reported.
Firefighters were finally able to bring the flames under control around 8 p.m. The business, which stood for more than 50 years providing sheet metal to manufacturers, was gutted after the fire consumed the roof and all of the first floor.
The plant is located next to the Pennsylvania Turnpike and caused major backup as well as delays on I-276 in all directions between Exit 339 - PA 309 and Exit 343 - PA 611.
"The Turnpike eastbound is running very slowly between Welsh Road and 611," said NBC10 Photo Journalist Jim Friedman, who was at the scene of the fire. "When I got off the 611 Interchange there were just cars everywhere. There are detours set up all over the place."
Friedman told NBC10 one of the hydrants was frozen during the fire, making it difficult for firefighters to fight the massive flames. Friedman also took photos of two aerial nozzles, one of which was not working.
Around 900 PECO customers in the area were without power due to the fire. Power was restored to all but 42 of the customers as of 8:45 p.m.
The Montgomery County Fire Marshal is investigating but has not yet been able to access the building to determine a cause.