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When the initial emergency call came in regarding an incident in a rural area of eastern Pennsylvania, it sounded worse than it was: One man and 40 cows were reportedly trapped beneath a barn after a floor collapsed from weight of the forklift the man had been driving.
The incident occurred in the 300 block of School Lane Road, in Salibury Township, near Lancaster, Pennsylvania about 3:48 p.m. Friday, Jan. 29.
When firefighters from the White Horse Township Fire Company arrived at the farm, however, they found the driver and most of the cows safe — although a few of the farm animals were still trapped in a confined space due to the fallen forklift, according to fire department reports.
But now they had a bigger problem: How to remove the multi-ton forklift from the bottom floor of the barn. The only way out was a door used by cows, which wasn’t close to being wide enough for a forklift.
A Puzzling Problem
As paramedics tended to the forklift operator — who had a minor arm injury that didn’t require hospitalization — and a veterinarian checked out the cows, who were shaken up but otherwise fine, the rest of the fire brigade tried to figure out what to do with the trapped forklift.
Finally, one of the firefighters had an idea, according to Deputy Fire Chief John Beyer. When he wasn’t working at the fire brigade, the firefighter worked for a company that had access to a 70-ton crane. After a few quick phone calls, permission was granted for the fire department to borrow the crane and it was quickly transported to the farm.
A Flying Forklift
A few firefighters from the White Horse brigade — assisted by members of the nearby Gap Fire Company — climbed onto the roof of the barn and carefully removed a few tin panels from the roof.
Then a hoist attached to the crane was carefully lowered down into the barn through the roof and attached to the forklift. A few minutes later, the forklift was lifted up and out of the barn and safely deposited on more stable ground.