Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Fire ravages Blairsville; 2 buildings destroyed, one person still missing

by on July 31, 2014 11:01 AM

BLAIRSVILLE — One person was missing and unaccounted for this morning following a blaze that destroyed two buildings in downtown Blairsville and heavily damaged two more.

Volunteer firefighters from nine fire departments battled the fire that started about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday in Sharon’s Restaurant and Lounge, 244 E. Market St., and then spread east and west to neighboring buildings, according to George Burkley, chief of the Blairsville fire department.

Two state police fire marshals were on the scene early today searching for a cause of the blaze, and Burkley said it appears the fire started in the kitchen of the restaurant and bar, possibly near a deep fryer.

The fire also destroyed the adjoining building housing Chaek’s Window ice cream shop, and damaged the nearby Chaek Photography and an apartment building.

Burkley estimated that seven people may have been left homeless by the flames.

One person, who Burkley declined to identify, was missing and may be buried in the rubble of the 2-1/2-story restaurant and bar building that collapsed.

“We’re picking through (the debris) with an excavator and firemen with shovels,” Burkley said about 9:30 a.m. today.

East Market Street was expected to be closed to traffic through this afternoon or evening, he said.

The Blairsville, Black Lick, Indiana, Coral-Graceton and Homer City fire departments first responded to the blaze Wednesday night. Firefighters from Derry, Bradenville, New Alexandria and Bolivar joined the fight later.

PHOTO: The blaze started in Sharon's Restaurant and Lounge, at left, and spread to the adjacent Chaek's ice cream shop. (Tom Peel/Gazette)

Randy Wells has been a reporter and staff writer at The Indiana Gazette since 1988. His regular assignments include coverage of the Indiana County commissioners, Indiana Borough council and the Marion Center Area School District. His email address is
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