The fire, at Scully Welding Supply Corp. in Collingdale, broke out about 12:50 p.m. and quickly went to five alarms.
“It looked like hell, like Dante’s Inferno,” said Collingdale fire marshal George Kaiser. “The fire was at least two-stories high.”
The main fire was declared under control around 4:30 p.m., and officials began letting almost all people return to their homes shortly after 7 p.m.
Three Scully employees were injured, including one seriously who was transported to Crozer-Chester Medical Center and was reported tonight in stable condition. Five firefighters were treated for heat related illnesses.
Kaiser, the fire marshal, was working at the storage center he owns adjacent to the Scully plant. He said the blaze ignited his building. The fire destroyed two old Collingdale fire trucks he kept on the premises and storage units rented by 70 customers.
Officials spent hours pouring water on large propane tanks to cool them, Lovejoy said. County Emergency Services Director Ed Truitt said officials also had been concerned about the danger the flames posed to a nearby oxygen supply company.
“If that building were to be breached, that could make life real interesting down there,” he said.
The fire caused heavy damage to Scully Welding Supply and a neighboring business, Kaiser Automotive, Lovejoy said. The cause of the blaze was under investigation by state and local authorities, he said. A call to Scully Welding Supply rang unanswered.
Tammy Scanlon, who lives a few hundred yards across the railroad tracks from Scully’s Propane, heard the explosions go on for about 30 minutes.