Cumberland Times-News

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May 27, 2009

Fire destroys Frostburg pizzeria

Investigators seek cause of third major fire in city’s business district in five years

FROSTBURG — State fire investigators worked throughout the day Tuesday to determine the cause of an overnight fire that destroyed one Main Street business and damaged a second one.

The third major fire within a one-block area of the city’s business district in the last five years destroyed 1 W. Main, knocking Gianni’s Pizza Shop out of business and damaging the adjoining Crestmont Gentlemen’s Apparel Store.

Two volunteer firefighters were injured and taken to Cumberland hospitals for treatment of heat exhaustion and released. A third firefighter was treated at the scene during the four-alarm fire that was discovered by a passerby at 12:15 a.m.

Investigators of the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office remained at the scene late Tuesday afternoon searching for the cause of the fire that apparently originated in the basement of the huge brick building that formerly housed the Prichard’s Hardware Store.

“Our first units at the scene found smoke coming from the basement,” said Frostburg Volunteer Fire Chief Nathan Blubaugh, who directed the fire operation involving more than 100 firefighters from Allegany and Garrett counties and nearby West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

The fire caused damage estimated initially at $300,000. All the windows of the three-story building were broken during the fire operation and part of the first floor reportedly collapsed into the basement, hampering the fire investigation.

The incident also forced overnight evacuation of residents of the Hotel Gunter to a shelter set up at the nearby Frostburg Community Center by the American Red Cross. Hotel residents were allowed to return by 9 a.m., according to desk clerk Ryan McKenzie.

Main Street Books owner Fred Powell ventilated his business, hoping none of his inventory was damaged by smoke.

“We’ve been through this before. This is the second time. It doesn’t seem to be as much damage as from Gandalf’s (fire at Lyric building in February 2004).

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