Blaze destroys auto repair shop 1088

Multiple fire companies responded Sunday evening to a blaze at Gresko Auto Service on Route 286 near Saltsburg.

CONEMAUGH TOWNSHIP — Crews from more than a half-dozen area fire departments faced a challenge they’d never seen before as a fire Sunday evening destroyed a prominent local auto repair shop, a fire official said.

The blaze left the Gresko auto repair business in ruins along Route 286, about a mile northeast of Saltsburg. Saltsburg fire Chief John Dice said no one was injured.

Once the home of Kier’s gas station, then Wesco car repairs, the business was growing. Owner Dan Gresko had undertaken an expansion project that involved encasing the original building in a second larger structure with large bays and tall doors to accommodate heavy equipment repairs, according to the fire chief.

A problem with an oil furnace in the old structure sparked the flames that engulfed the building and set the larger shell on fire.

“You can imagine trying to fight fire in a building inside of a building,” Dice said. “You can’t get water to the internal building. The second roof is blocking your water.

“The internal building was fully involved and flames extended through the second roof when the call came in.”

Saltsburg, Tunnelton-Conemaugh Township, Coal Run/McIntyre, Iselin/ West Lebanon and Bell Township, Westmoreland County, crews answered the first alarm at 4:51 p.m. Slickville, Blairsville and Aultman fire departments were called soon after, and the Black Lick fire company was sent to the Blairsville station as a standby.

Firefighters focused on keeping flames from spreading to a number of vehicles and propane tanks on the property. A house sits on the lot but at enough of a distance not to be in jeopardy, Dice said.

“We couldn’t make an interior attack, so this was strictly a defensive effort,” he said.

Dice said the business was insured. Online sources identify the business as Dan Gresko’s Gas & Service, operated by D. Gresko Holdings LLC.

Gresko couldn’t be reached for comment this morning.