New Castle News

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November 19, 2012

Cause of fire at Amish furniture shop still undetermined

NEW CASTLE — The cause of a fire at an Amish furniture shop in Pulaski is still under investigation.

The blaze destroyed the construction shop on the property of Andy D. Byler on Route 208. Pulaski Fire Chief Guy Morse estimated the loss at $400,000.

Morse said the shop and its adjoining dust collector silo were destroyed, but firefighters were able to keep the flames from spreading to nearby buildings, including the Byler home.

The lack of telephones at the Amish property hindered communications and delayed the response, Morse noted. By the time firefighters arrived around 11:30 p.m. Friday, the business was fully engulfed.

“I just wish we could have gotten there sooner,” Morse said. He added the intensity of the blaze prevented crews from attacking it. Rather, he said, they conducted a more “defensive” response, working to contain the fire to the one building.

Also hindering firefighters was the lack of hydrants in the rural area, Morse said. Instead, tanker trucks were used to haul in water. Based on the number of tanker trips, Morse estimates between 70,000 and 90,000 gallons of water were used to keep the fire under control.

“We did pretty good for having no hydrants available,” Morse said of the firefighting effort.

In addition to about 10 Pulaski firefighters, volunteers from New Wilmington, Neshannock and Mahoning responded to the blaze, as did tanker crews from Volant and Shenango and West Middlesex in Mercer County.

In all, Morse said, between 25 and 30 firefighters were on the scene. Personnel remained at the site until about 5 a.m. Saturday. There were no injuries, Morse said.

On Saturday, crews began to clear the site and Morse anticipates reconstruction of the shop will begin Monday.

A state police fire marshal is probing the cause of the blaze, which is undetermined at this point, Morse said.

His $400,000 loss estimate includes the dried, finished lumber at the site, which fueled the flames. The fire chief added the owner had no insurance.

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