A propane torch used by a worker led to a fire at a building on the site of the Rodale Organic Gardening Experimental Farm in Lower Macungie, a fire official said.
Flames ignited shortly after 3 p.m. Wednesday at the building at 2056 Minesite Road. Township Fire Chief David Nosal told lehighvalleylive.com the fire began when a worker using the torch accidentally ignited a small bush. Flames then spread from the bush to a smaller exterior building on the property, Nosal said.
Multiple workers were using torches at the time to burn weeds around the building, he said. The building that caught fire is not the main building on the property. It is one of a few smaller structures toward the center of the site, Nosal said.
Crews were able to bring the fire under control in about 30 minutes, he said. There were no reported injuries.
Damage to the building was moderate and was contained to the parking lot side of the structure, Nosal said. Portions of the building were able to be saved and the site remains standing, he said.
Aside from the Lower Macungie Fire Dept., also responding to Wednesday’s blaze were the Western Salisbury Fire Dept., Trexlertown Fire Dept., Vera Cruz Fire Dept., Greenawalds Fire Co., and Macungie Emergency Medical Services.
The Rodale Institute is a nonprofit organization, supporting research into organic farming.
It was founded in 1940 by the late J. I. Rodale, an organic living entrepreneur, along with his wife, Anna. The couple bought the run-down, 63-acre township farm, which became the site of Rodale’s first experiments with organic agriculture, according to the organization’s website.
The current site of the Rodale Institute was later purchased in the 1970s. Multiple published reports state after J.I. Rodale died in 1971, his late son Robert Rodale purchased 333 acres and moved the farm to Kutztown, Berks County.
The Farming Systems Trial was initiated not long after in 1981, the organization’s website states.
Flames ignited Wednesday, May 19, 2023 at the property along Minesite Road in Lower Macungie. The Rodale Institute is a nonprofit organization, supporting research into organic farming. It was founded in 1940.
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