A backfiring car sparked a blaze that damaged an East Manchester Township home Tuesday and destroyed its attached garage and three vehicles inside.

No one was hurt, but three firefighters had to be evaluated on the scene for heat exposure, according to Joe Madzelan, battalion chief for York Area United Fire and Rescue.

"(One) was allowed to return to work by EMS," he said, but the other two were advised to leave the scene.

[Click here to see our photo gallery from the scene of the fire.]

Firefighters look through the wreckage of burned vehicles after a house fire in East Manchester Township.
Firefighters look through the wreckage of burned vehicles after a house fire in East Manchester Township. (John A. Pavoncello)

The homeowner was checked at the scene by an ambulance crew after he suffered chest pains that Madzelan said were likely stress-related.

"He's fine," the battalion chief said, and did not need to be transported to the hospital.

But he will be displaced for a substantial amount of time, according to Madzelan. Public records list the resident as Harold Hake.

The blaze: Crews were called to the home in the 400 block of Park Street at 10:10 a.m., initially for a report of smoke, Madzelan said, but instead found the garage and its contents on fire.

The blaze started when the homeowner went into his garage and started one of his cars, which backfired, the battalion chief said.

"He did get out safely," Madzelan said. "At this point we're not sure (why the car ignited). It sounded like a mechanical problem."

Flames destroyed the garage and three vehicles, and extended to the house.

"It was working its way up the exterior wall," Madzelan said. "We had to remove a lot of the wall boards (to douse flames)."

Under control: It took crews about a half-hour to bring the blaze under control, he said; they remained on scene for hours, checking for hots spots and doing cleanup.

"There was a lot of stuff in the garage," Madzelan said, including some sort of metal or wood-working shop.

The house sustained smoke and water damage, he said, and the home's garage-side wall and attic sustained fire damage.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Madzelan had not yet determined a damage estimate.

The York-Adams chapter of the American Red Cross was on scene to assist Hake.

Dangerous heat: At the scene, Madzelan said his biggest concern Tuesday was the heat. "We try not to work firefighters more than 10 or 15 minutes," he said. "We try to make sure we don't lose anybody to heat exhaustion."

A firefighter's turnout gear -- coat, pants and boots -- weighs about 35 pounds. That means a firefighter in turnout gear with an air pack is carrying about 50 extra pounds, according to Madzelan.

High temperatures, the heat from a fire itself and physical exertion all cause firefighters to sweat, and the perspiration becomes trapped between firefighters and their turnout gear, he said.

In a hot, burning home, that water can turn dangerous.

"Sweat starts to convert to steam, and you risk getting steam burns," Madzelan said.

At the scene: Helping Manchester's Union Fire Co. and York Area United battle the blaze were fire crews and equipment -- primarily tankers -- from York Haven, Mount Wolf, Newberry Township, Fairview Township, Strinestown, Shiloh, York City, Dallastown and Dover, Madzelan said.

In areas where there are no nearby hydrants or water sources, such as the Park Street blaze, officials at a fire scene often call for what's known as a "tanker task force," or five water tankers from other companies, he said.

-- Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com.