Fire destroys Cheese House
BLAIRSVILLE — A state police fire marshal is investigating the cause of a blaze late Sunday that destroyed The Cheese House, a landmark cheese and wine retail shop along Route 22 about 1½ miles west of Blairsville.
George Burkley, chief of Blairsville’s volunteer fire department, said a passer-by on Route 22 apparently spotted the fire and turned in the alarm at 10:56 p.m.
Burkley said heavy smoke and flames were coming from one end of the one-story wood building when the first firefighters arrived on the scene. Burkley said no attempt was made to send firefighters inside the structure because of the intensity of the flames.
The building was destroyed, he said.
[PHOTO: Remnants of the Cheese House burned this morning. Tom Peel/Gazette photo]
Burkley also said a couple firefighters were injured, but not seriously, when they fell on the ice that built up at the scene as they fought the fire in single-digit temperatures.
The eastbound lanes of Route 22 were closed for about 3½ hours during the fire.
Volunteer firefighters from Black Lick and Saltsburg and from departments in New Alexandria, Eastern Derry Township, Derry Borough and Bradenville in Westmoreland County assisted the Blairsville volunteers.
One company of firefighters from the Indiana Fire Association was dispatched with the company’s aerial truck but was canceled before it left the Indiana station.
Firefighters at the Homer City and Coral-Graceton stations were put on standby.