New Castle News

December 22, 2012

Top 10 Stories, Number 9: Black Whale fire remembered as sensational

Debbie Wachter
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — The building has been torn down.

A yoga and tie-die clothing shop, the Lovelight Boutique, in an adjacent building, has relocated to 26 E. Washington St.

But the sensational fire that drew hundreds of spectators to downtown New Castle the evening of July 22 is still on the lips of many folks who reminisce about the days of the old Black Whale and the demise of the long-standing building that formerly housed the tavern.

Fire swept through the vacant building at rear 105 E. Washington Street, injuring one New Castle firefighter who was temporarily trapped inside the burning structure and summoning the help from many local fire departments.

Fireman Lt. John Onufrak was pulled from the building by his fellow firefighters and New Castle police officers, who later were recognized for their heroic efforts.

The cause of the fire has been labeled as arson, and New Castle police have since offered a reward to anyone with information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever ignited the building.

The case remains unsolved.

The fire caused an estimated $150,000.

Firefighters were credited for limiting the leaping flames to that building and not allowing the fire to spread to the downtown businesses.

The building was torn down a few weeks after the fire was out, and the space where the Black Whale once stood is now vacant. The intent is to create a parking lot where the tavern was located.

The city has plans to demolish an adjacent building that formerly housed Pat’s Cameras and Lovelight Boutique.

The business, owned by Brian and LeeAnn Wilson, had some damage and some of its merchandise was lost. The store has moved and reopened on the Diamond downtown.

(Email: dwachter@ncnewsonline.com)