CLARKSBURG — A business reportedly abandoned for at least five years has been gutted by an overnight fire along Route 286 in Young Township.
“There was forced entry,” Iselin-West Lebanon Fire Chief Bryan Schirato said, as his volunteer unit arrived at the former Valley Inn at 15334 Route 286, not far from Blacklegs Creek.
“We had a working structure fire,” Schirato said. “There was heavy smoke.”
There also was a complication, as during the battle Indiana County Municipal Service Authority water hydrants were shut off. Schirato said the authority earlier had the water shut off for fear of low water levels.
“We did not physically shut off any water to our fire hydrants,” ICMSA Executive Director Martin Maschak said Monday morning. “The fire companies operate the hydrants when they are out there.”
However, he added, “if we hit critical levels (with our tanks), there is only so much we can do.”
For the second weekend in a row, multiple Kiski-Conemaugh Valley fire units were called out to a major blaze in Young Township. Last weekend it was for a tire and coal bony pile fire that was rekindled four times and remains under investigation.
This weekend the state police fire marshal is trying to determine what started the fire that caused Indiana County Emergency Management Agency to first dispatch Iselin-West Lebanon, Coal Run-McIntyre and Saltsburg volunteer firefighters at 11:03 p.m. Saturday.
The Indiana County 911 unit also dispatched Tunnelton-Conemaugh Township, Apollo No. 3 and Elderton District volunteer fire companies at 11:06 p.m., and later also would send Kiski Township Volunteer Fire Department.
It was a stubborn fire that forced units to shut down Route 286 between Blacklegs Creek and Saltsburg until 4 a.m. Sunday, around the time the last units were clearing the scene.
There also again were multiple units called to standby, with Aultman volunteers going to Coal Run-McIntyre, North Apollo to Iselin-West Lebanon, New Alexandria going to Tunnelton-Conemaugh Township and Parks Township standing by for Apollo No. 3.
The one-story, 60-by-80-foot, double-roof structure was not near any neighboring structures and Schirato said the fire did not spread.
In another parallel to last weekend, Iselin-West Lebanon and Coal Run-McIntyre units were called out again at 8 a.m. Sunday for a rekindling, apparently of embers in the roof of the former Valley Inn.
Schirato said those units were there for about 45 minutes.