Less than three weeks after a fire destroyed the Hotel Do De in Bellefonte, another fire burnt down a Mattress World warehouse early Monday morning, just streets away from the original scene.
“It’s not a usual event,” Alpha Fire Company Fire Chief Tim Scheffler said. “It’s something where we need to look at all the elements of the incident.”
Scheffler said Alpha Fire arrived at the warehouse at about 4:25 a.m. and said there was heavy fire.
However, he said due to the electrical lines in the building, they were unable to enter it and put out the fire.
Scheffler said he estimated it took firefighters about an hour and 20 minutes until the power was cut off and they were able to enter the building. Until then, he said they focused on preventing the fire from spreading.
“It’s very frightening,” Bellefonte council member Dave Provan said. “We’re all on edge. Anytime we lose one of our historic structures, a mood kind of comes over you and you get that feeling, a feeling of loss.”
Provan said the council is working to implement new measures of fire safety in the community, including a fire task force.
He said the force would take a look at different ways to deal with fire safety in local buildings and other structures, as well as try to create solutions that could affordably be implemented in the community.
Provan said some of these solutions could include a sprinkler system for buildings and said the force could work to offer assistance in terms of tax forgiveness for business owners.
“We’re looking at a lot of different things right now,” he said. “It’s a multi-faceted approach.”
Provan said regular citizens should be on the lookout for fire hazards and report anything they see and said landlords should also be making sure everything in the buildings is up to code.
Council member Tom Wilson said the council is in contact with different people and agencies in different states to see if they are able to provide incentive for business owners to install types of preventive systems.
Wilson said there was still no official word on the cause of both the Hotel Do De fire and the Mattress World warehouse fire.
“People tend to think that we’re unique in a number of fires that we have, but they happen every day in any town that has old buildings,” Wilson said. “So we hope to be able to do what we can do to offset the proliferation of fires in downtown [Bellefonte].”
According to a press release issued by Disaster News, the United States Small Business Administration will be offering low-interest disaster loans to the residents displaced by the first fire.
Frank Skaggs, director of SBA’s Field Operations Center East in Atlanta, said in a press release that loans up to $40,000 were available to the residents to replace lost personal property.
To email reporter: firstname.lastname@example.org