by Lisa Hinton-Valdrighi
KILMARNOCK—One person died and several businesses and residences were destroyed when fire raced through a block of buildings on Irvington Road in Kilmarnock in the early morning hours Tuesday, April 19.
According to Kilmarnock Volunteer Fire Department Chief Roy Hall, the body of the victim was found in one of the apartments and has been sent to the state medical examiner’s office for identification. The name of the deceased wasn’t released by the press deadline Wednesday morning.
Two of the seven apartments in the block of buildings were fully engulfed when responders arrived on scene around 3:44 a.m., said Hall. The 911 call came into the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office at 3:41 a.m. and the first unit arrived three minutes later, he said.
“By that time, the two apartments were fully engulfed and it had spread to the other five apartments and five businesses,” said Hall.
Four volunteer fire departments responded including Kilmarnock, Upper Lancaster, White Stone and Fairfields. Ladder trucks from Kilmarnock and Fairfields battled the blaze from opposing ends of the block. The fire was not fully under control until approximately 8:30 a.m., he said. Crews remained on scene until midday with road closures and detours in place until 1:30 p.m.
Although the fire is still under investigation, Hall said it appeared to be accidental.
“One of the residents woke up to fire in his apartment, wrapped himself up with a blanket and got out,” said Hall. “He ran to the other apartments and knocked on doors, telling everyone to get out. He saved a lot of people.”
The block was home to several well-established Kilmarnock businesses including Lester’s Barber Shop, C&D Music, The Jeanery and NN Burger. Barkley’s Boutique was the newest edition, opening in November 2021. There were two vacant stores in the row of buildings.
All of the businesses sustained either fire or water damage.
“We are very grateful for the immediate response of these volunteers and for all the first responders who came to assist,” said Kilmarnock Mayor Mae Umphlett.
“Our thoughts are with these displaced residents and business owners and especially to the family of the victim,” she said.
According to Hall, a dog and cat were rescued from the fire.
The American Red Cross responded to assist the displaced residents.
“We have reached out to all the businesses and to the Red Cross to offer our assistance,” said Kilmarnock town manager Susan Cockrell.
Hall also thanked all the local businesses that brought food and water to the firefighters.