REPUBLIC (KDKA) – Investigators are trying to figure out if a lightning strike caused a massive fire that destroyed a former hotel in Fayette County overnight.
According to officials at the scene, the fire started around 12:30 a.m. Wednesday along Legion Street.
The fire destroyed the old Mystic Inn, which was a former bar with 10 apartments above it. The bar closed down late last year and the apartments were all emptied out by Dec. 31, 2013.
This is actually the second time in just over a month that this building caught on fire. While the first one caused some damage.
“Upon our arrival, fire was already through the roof, almost coming out of every window,” Republic Volunteer Fire Department Fire Chief John Duke said.
The fire quickly grew to a three-alarm call, with over 120 firefighters on scene.
“It’s one of the biggest fires I’ve ever seen,” Stan Oliver, a neighbor, said. “It was pretty hot. You could feel the heat.”
“Once the flames went into the attic, the roof collapsed and that sent a lot of embers into the air and onto the neighboring structures,”
Chief Duke says just last month, two apartments caught fire.
“We had a fire there approximately a month ago, that involved two of the apartment complexes and went up to the attic. So, the building was already deteriorated from that structure fire,” Chief Duke said.
Following that fire, the utilities were shut off to the building. The chief says it was in the process of being sold. Once they knew the building was a loss Wednesday morning, crews worked extremely hard to keep the fire from spreading, especially to the neighboring American Legion.
“It was minimal. It had some smoke and water damage. The severe heat and the intense heat did bust a couple of the windows and smoke came in,” Chief Duke said.
State police are continuing their investigation, but due to the roof collapse and severe structural damage, it may be impossible to ever determine a cause.