A 150-year-old Harlansburg landmark was saved from total demise overnight when firefighters from multiple departments showed up to battle a kitchen blaze.
Fire broke out around 1 a.m. inside the former Village Inn, which had been a popular restaurant for decades and most recently was the home of a catering business, JPC Event Corp., owned by Richard and Jodi Wimer.
Scott Township fire chief Mike Rodgers reported that a passerby saw flames and smoke coming from the north end of the building. The first fire truck arrived within five minutes, he said, and multiple fire departments from three counties responded quickly.
The fire was limited to the kitchen of the three-story building, Rodgers said. The rest of the structure has extensive smoke, heat and water damage.
He said that nobody was inside the building at the time, and the fire was contained to the kitchen, a 20-by-30-foot area. The fire didn’t spread upstairs.
“It was a pretty good response,” Rodgers said.
Mutual aid was provided by the volunteer fire departments of Volant, Hickory, Slippery Rock Township, New Wilmington and Shenango Area Fire District in Lawrence County; Portersville and Slippery Rock Borough from Butler County and Mercer East End and Springfield Township in Mercer County.
“That’s one thing with mutual aid, how well they all came and worked together,” Rodgers said. “It’s a wonderful thing. We can’t do this by ourselves and we have to go further and further to get more firefighters.
“Everybody did a phenomenal job with that being such a long building,” he said. “We never ran out of water, there were no injuries and it worked like it should have and how we trained.”
Rodgers took over this year as fire chief and this was his first big fire. He had been Scott’s assistant chief for eight years prior.
“This was a large fire for the size of the building,” he said, adding that the catering business is non-operable due to the fire.
The state police fire marshal has been called to investigate the cause, but the origin of the fire does not appear to have been suspicious, Rodgers said.
JPC Event Corp. has served the region with catering, event planning and venue management since 1998.