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Meyersdale blaze ruled arson, plagues problems for borough

Updated: Tuesday, July 1 2014, 12:06 PM EDT

By: Melanie Gillespie and WJAC Web Staff

-- A building that was standing Sunday afternoon in Meyersdale is nothing but a pile of burnt rubble Monday.

The old Slammerz Bar on Center Street went up in flames Sunday night.

A State Police Fire Marshal ruled it arson.

The fire not only put the lives of firefighters at risk, but caused problems throughout town the next day.

Tom Smith is on borough council and lives right next door to where the vacant building used to stand.

A backhoe brought down all of the bricks and wood in order to put the inferno out.

"We have a couple blighted properties in town. We've been fighting to get them taken care of for this exact reason," Smith said. "We're looking at probably $10,000 worth of water damage, smoke damage, broken windows and lost property."

There were a number of problems that plagued the town on Monday.

Sheetz temporarily shut down gas pumps and could not accept anything but cash because of power outages.

Meyersdale Fire Chief said more than one million gallons of water were needed to fight the flames and used up almost an entire tank of the borough's water.

"Our tank downtown was down to about six inches left at about 5 o'clock this [Monday] morning," Meyersdale Municipal Authority Supervisor Jeff McKenzie said.

McKenzie said there is normally up to 14 feet of water available.

Workers with the municipal authority had to put in overtime hours to fix leaks left behind from the surge of water needed to fight the fire.

"Well, we have a few breaks that [was] caused by this fire; big drawls bring out the weak points in the distribution system," McKenzie said.

Borough Council said the building has been vacant and condemned for years.

Smith said this arson is costing tax payers money.

"Unfortunately, the borough is picking up the tab of getting this cleaned up because this man had no insurance," Smith said.

A firefighter was taken to the hospital Sunday night for heat exhaustion, but was released the following morning.

The water authority has a boil advisory in effect as a precaution, but expects everything to be back to normal by Thursday.

Meyersdale blaze ruled arson, plagues problems for borough

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times