February 2, 2014
Where’s the fire?
Tuesday , January 28, 2014, a typical late night at work, hearing traffic on the street and an occasional siren of sorts passing by. I recall hearing more sirens than normal around 6p.m. on this Monday evening, but I was engrossed in my work and didn’t really think much about it. It is a main entrance into town from the neighboring town about 10 miles away, it is common to hear ambulance sirens coming into town. Little did I know what was really occurring. Little did I know what I would see when I left work a few hours later.
As I left work around 8p.m., I noticed a distinct smell in the air as I was walking to my car. I was heading over the bridge to the grocery store to get some items for my sister-in-law who was 9 months pregnant and had the flu. As I was driving down the street I noticed a fire truck coming across the bridge. The truck was from Vernon fire department was heading over the bridge into the city, this is normally a sign of nothing good. I headed over to the grocery store, not really thinking much about it. As I headed back over the bridge, which arches so you can see over the city a little, from the grocery store to my sister-in-laws home I could see a huge cloud of smoke and an orange glow. It was from somewhere about half way across town. As I drove towards my sister-in-laws I saw red strobe lights down the streets in the blocks nearing the location of the fire.
I was trying to figure out where the fire was, it was pretty big and I was praying that everyone got out. With the streets closed off it was not easy to figure out what building it was. Eventually through driving down different alley’s I realized it was a huge building on the corner by the YMCA. This was a large building that housed 12 apartments, of which 9 were occupied. I had assumed this was an apartment building throughout the years but I was never really sure.
According to the Meadville Tribune there were 10 fire departments involved in assisting to control the fire. They tried fighting off the fire but at about 6:31p.m. the fire chief, had to call everyone out of the building because it was too dangerous. From that point on they just tried to control the fire as there were buildings next door. It was only 1 degree farenheit outside. This was a huge house and by the time I saw it, it was obvious it was a complete loss. There were at least 2 aerial ladders trucks trying to spray down onto the fire. It was a bitter cold night, I was also praying for safety for the firemen and anyone involved. My son is a junior fireman; he heard on his scanner that some of the departments did not get back to the station until around midnight. (Gushard, 2014)
We made sure to pick up the Meadville Tribune the next day, it turns out it was a large apartment building on the corner of Liberty Street and Chestnut St. Luckily the YMCA was able to be used as a warming station for the firemen and displaced families. Local restaurants donated coffee, pizza. The building was a complete loss and such a danger that they started tearing it down 2 days after the fire. Someone had reported that when they were in the apartment building earlier that afternoon that something smelled off. The fire didn’t break out until around 5:30p.m. that evening. Everyone was able to escape the fire unharmed although unfortunately they lost all of their belongings. The community has been great in donating and helping out the families get back on their feet.
Gushard, K. (2014, January 29). Out in the Cold. The Meadville Tribune. P.A1 & A6.