By Jonathan Weaver
Flames were quickly extinguished in a former East Franklin Township body shop yesterday evening.
The fire was reported shortly before 6PM on Pleasant View Drive (also known locally as in “Skunk Hollow”) at the former building of Chuck Crowe’s Sales and Service.
Property Owner Melanie Wonderling lives in a mobile home near the former body shop – which was left to her by her father, Charles “Chuck” Crowe, upon his passing nearly eight years ago.
“We would’ve liked to keep the towing business, but we’re not now,” Wonderling said.
Wonderling said workers cutting beams inside the building got out safely.
“They were but they got out – nobody was hurt,” Wonderling said. “That was my main concern when I called because I wasn’t here. I don’t know if it was my son-in-law or my daughter that called (Armstrong 9-1-1).”
East Franklin Township Fire Chief Mark Feeney said water soaking into the dilapidated building extinguished the fire within five minutes.
“They were using the torch to cut the beams and the insulation caught on fire, but the roof has a lot of holes, so all the rain we’ve had soaked it and that’s what kept it from burning. The whole in the back wall is what stopped everything,” Chief Feeney said. “If that was dry…”
Responding firefighters included those from Applewold, East Franklin, Kittanning Hose Company #1 and Worthington-West Franklin volunteer fire departments. All went back-in-service in their respective municipalities within 20 minutes of the emergency dispatch.
Both Kittanning Hose Company #1 and East Franklin primarily used their engine vehicles – East Franklin utilizing their apparatus from the Cowansville substation since the one at their fire hall was being repaired.
The now-vacant building is located on a tract of nearly 18 acres of land. Crowe also operated business near the current-Lucchetti Auto on Midway Avenue in West Hills before his passing.