Eastern Mercer County firefighters from nearly a dozen departments spent several hours battling a blaze in a block of businesses in Sandy Lake Borough.
Residents said Ebbert Hardware has sat on Main Street for more than 50 years, but the business was destroyed in the fire.
The Sandy Lake Volunteer Fire Department received a call about 1:30 p.m. for thick black smoke coming from the back of the building, but crews initially could not find the source of the smoke. Eventually, the fire broke through the backside of the building.
“When we got on scene, the smoke was all banked down inside the building itself, hard to find out where the fire was, couldn’t see any physical fire,” said Assistant Fire Chief Daniel Patton.
Within a couple hours, flames were shooting through the roof of the store.
“That’s when it became an exterior fire fight. I wasn’t endangering anybody going in there again,” Patton said.
The roadway has been reopened and the dozens of firefighters from several surrounding communities were cleared from the scene around 5 p.m. However, the chief will keep a few firefighters on the scene and they could remain well into the night.
“Our fire department and Stoneboro Station 76 will probably be staying on scene to watch for hotspots, douse it. I do not want to have to come out and put this thing out again,” Patton said.
Ebbert Hardware closed for the day at noon, so no one was inside when the fire started. The store is attached to Sandy Lake Post Office, which sustained little to no damage.
However, the same can’t be said for Aloradonna Gifts and Flowers, which is sandwiched in between. Its owner just returned from making a delivery when she saw the smoke.
“I had seen the fire coming up between the seams up there, and I thought ‘Oh my god!’,” owner Debbie Millero said.
Crews had to bust out the front windows of the flower shop. Miller said there’s extensive water damage inside, and a lot of merchandise was lost.
“And I just had stocked up for prom this weekend at Lakeview, and Mother’s Day, so I got tons of flowers and vases in prepared for that,” Millero said.
She said she’ll take her flowers home, and make corsages to fill orders for prom, but she said it’s going to be a while before Aloradonna can reopen for business.
No one was injured, and the State Fire Marshal is investigating what started the fire.