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Fire at campground causes at least $150,000 damage

April 27, 2014 News Extra

BRADY TWP — A fire at Moraine Camplands gutted seven trailers Saturday afternoon as wind-swept flames ignited them one by one to set off a huge blaze.

Ten fire departments were called to put out the blaze that also destroyed a sport utility vehicle, two golf carts and several storage sheds, and damaged one additional trailer.

No one was injured. The camper trailers were unoccupied at the time, authorities said.

The state police fire marshal’s office is investigating but a cause of the blaze was not immediately known.

An official damage estimate was not available but the loss would likely top $150,000, said Rick Black, assistant chief for the Unionville Volunteer Fire Department.

The fire at the campground on Staff Road, about 1 miles west of Route 8, was reported shortly after 4:30 p.m.

Moraine Camplands maintenance manager John Bluedorn said the blaze began in one trailer and quickly caught hold of the others.

“It started in the one and just spread,” Bluedorn said. “The wind didn’t help.”

Most of the more than 800 campers who own trailers and lease lots at the site have not yet returned for the season.

Bob Villella of Pittsburgh, a member of the campground association’s board of directors, was at his trailer just above a section of the facility known as “Groundhog County,” where the fire broke out.

“I came out of my trailer to get something out of my truck and saw smoke,” Villella said.

Villella ran a short way from his trailer to get a better look at what was on fire.

He and another camper rushed to help.

“We grabbed garden hoses and tried doing what we could,” he said. Some of the others that were nearby followed suit.

“The other campers on site pitched in,” Bluedorn said. “If not for all the people running around hosing things down, it would have been a lot worse.”

Gusty winds apparently hastened the spread of the blaze by blowing leaves on fire under the trailers.

The Unionville VFD was first to arrive. Then Prospect. Then Slippery Rock. The companies kept coming. In all, 55 firefighters helped battle the blaze.

There are no hydrants at the camp so tankers had to haul water from a large fishing pond several hundred yards away.

Eventually, the blaze was under control.