Federal agency investigating cause of West York fire

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WEST YORK, Pa. -- A federal agency is investigating the cause of a fire that destroyed an indoor shooting range in West York. Officials still don't know the cause of it.

The three-alarm fire broke out Friday night at the West York Sporting Goods on the 1000 block of West Market Street.

West York's Acting Police Chief, Matthew Millsaps, said this fire was especially hazardous because of all the firearms inside.
"It was within a facility that had a large amount of ammunition as well as black powder which can be volatile and even explosive in high concentrations," Millsaps said.

Now a federal agency is conducting a firearms inventory and investigating the cause of the fire.

Millsaps said, "The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, their investigator is taking the lead. PSP as well as the West York Police are just supporting him and providing assistance. He'll ultimately make the determination of origin and cause."

The ATFE is investigating because of the damage to those firearms and the ammunition that was inside. But it does not necessarily mean that a criminal act occurred.

The shooting range is located right next to a gas station. And the owner is grateful for the firefighters who put the flames out before they could spread.

Ranjid Cheema, the owner of York Fuel Stop, said, "Thank God we are still alive."

If his building were any closer to the shooting range, there may have been a different outcome.

"Didn't let the fire come over to our building. So maybe this gap in between us might have saved us from not being in a situation like this," Cheema said.

He said he had to close the station for two days.

"It was a weekend and we lost a lot of business because of that. So it did hurt us. But this is one of the things that you have no control over you know?" Cheema asked.

Officials said they will continue to investigate, but it may be difficult. A fire can destroy evidence, making it difficult for them to determine the cause of it.

"Unfortunately there's nothing that we can immediately say. We have to look at a variety of factors and then we have to test them to see what evidence there is that supports those conditions that resulted in the fire," Millsaps said.