BURRELL TOWNSHIP — A malfunctioning exhaust fan in the men’s restroom started a fire just after midnight today that left the Pizza Hut/KFC restaurant on Corporate Drive heavily damaged.
Black Lick Volunteer Fire Department Chief Bryan Palmer said the call for an automatic fire alarm came at 12:45 a.m. The assistant fire chief responded and reported smoke showing from the structure, Palmer said. When he arrived, he called in an alarm for a commercial structure fire — a call that brought in the surrounding fire companies.
Palmer said the restaurant was closed for business and no one was inside when the fire broke out.
“It’s just not going to be operational for a long time. Pretty extensive damage,” Palmer said. “Once (the fire) gets up in the roof there, it just gets going.”
Palmer said no one was injured fighting the blaze, and that it was caused by an electrical problem with the exhaust fan. He said the building suffered heavy damage to the roof and water damage throughout the interior.
The restaurant is owned by Doug and Larry Lockard and Eric Jones of LGL Pizza Hut, who also own the Pizza Hut/KFC establishment in White Township.
“We are committed to remaining open in Blairsville,” Doug Lockard said this morning. He said the partners are assessing the damage and determining what needs to be done before the restaurant can operate. The combined Pizza Hut/KFC has been in the Blairsville area since late 2002 or early 2003, he said.
The Blairsville, Homer City, Coral/Graceton, Indiana, Eastern Derry, Seward, Clyde and Armagh & East Wheatfield Township fire departments, the Rapid Intervention Team and Citizens’ Ambulance Service also responded to the scene, Palmer said, and Brush Valley and Derry were on standby. All units were back to their stations by 4:45 a.m., he said.