New Castle News

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May 23, 2014

Fire damages North Hill business

NEW CASTLE — As Paul Horney watched Wednesday night’s baseball game, he realized the glow surrounding him was not from the close score.

Horney is credited with calling the New Castle Fire Department to the 1700 block of Highland Avenue at 10:22 p.m.

Firefighters found flames coming through the roof at the back of the building occupied by Clark’s Alterations at 1702 Highland Ave.

New Castle Fire Chief Mark Panella said the blaze is considered suspicious, adding he has contacted the city fire inspector and the Pennsylvania State Police fire marshal to investigate.

“It was not bad, as fires go.”

He said there was open flame in the alterations business, but “there was not a lot of fire damage. There was, however, a lot of smoke damage.”

Smoke affected all three businesses in the building — Clark’s Alterations, owned by Elise Clark; Harry Fleeger’s Barbershop; and Mom’s Pizza, owned by Phil and Leslie Pratt. Also affected were two apartments above the pizza store. One is vacant, the other occupied by Horney.

“His apartment was on the north side of the building,” Panella said. “That enabled him to see the fire. Had he been in the other apartment, facing away from the fire, it could have been a different story.”

Panella said the firefighters, who remained at the scene until 12:45 a.m., used fans to clear smoke from the businesses and Horney’s apartment. The chief said he does not believe Horney was displaced by the fire. He also said the businesses would be able to open as usual.

Firefighters estimated property damage to Clark’s business at $45,000, and estimated damage to contents at $35,000.

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