Pa. 16 reopens 6 days after fire

February 02, 2006|By JENNIFER FITCH

Greencastle, Pa. - A section of Pa. 16 that had remained closed after a fire in Greencastle, Pa., last week reopened Wednesday morning.

The first block of South Washington Street will stay closed as crews from Fayetteville Contractors continue to demolish the remnants of a three-story brick building at 5 S. Washington St.

"They still have the rear half of the building to tear down," said Ken Myers, Greencastle borough manager.

The blaze last Thursday left five families homeless and caused the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to close nearby streets for fear of falling debris.


A Pennsylvania State Police fire marshal determined the blaze started accidentally in attic wiring.

The 13 people who lived in the apartments are "under the circumstances doing fairly well," said Paul Schemel, an attorney who is representing the property owner with regard to demolition.

The property owner is PTD Properties LLC, a company owned by Kevin McDermott of Frederick, Md.

Schemel said Fayetteville Contractors did exceptional work and took care to retrieve as many family heirlooms as possible during demolition.

Workers grabbed photographs, jewelry boxes and a few guns of sentimental value as they took apart the building by hand.

"There's a lot of handwork," said Schemel. "The brick is very brittle."

Machinery lifted crews to the highest part of the building, where they literally pulled apart the building piece by piece.

A Waynesboro, Pa., firefighter injured in the blaze has recovered and is back to work, according to Ron Flegel, Waynesboro fire chief.

Schemel has talked to most everyone who lived in the building and believes most have been successful in finding new homes.

"They seem fairly upbeat and optimistic," Schemel said.

While McDermott doesn't have any plans for the site at this time, he has said he wants to see the future use honor the town's character, according to Schemel.

The next step will be removing the rest of the building without damaging an addition that had been built in the rear. That structure, which has four apartments inside, is owned by someone else and was not condemned after the fire, said Schemel.

A structural engineer must determine if a single or double wall separated the structures.

"They have to be very sensitive to that wall," Schemel said.

Monetary donations for the families may be sent to the American Red Cross, Franklin County Chapter, 25 Penncraft Ave., Chambersburg, PA 17201. Donations should be designated for "local disaster."

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