ROSTRAVER TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — A state police fire marshal will be in Rostraver Township, Westmoreland County, on Friday to sift through what’s left of an antique business that burned to the ground.
The Gilmore Auction Galleries, owned by the same family for three generations, was destroyed by fire Thursday. The auction and appraisal company has been at the same location on Martin Road in Rostraver since 1968.
Emergency dispatchers confirmed the fire broke out just after 4 p.m.
KDKA’s Ross Guidotti Reports:
The steel building was home to a number of antiques and flammable materials. Firefighters said when they got to the scene the large building was already totally consumed by fire.
Neighbors said the heat and the smoke were intense.
Neighbor Bridget Zilka told KDKA-TV News, “It was really weird, from me standing in my driveway, it felt like a bonfire, just standing here.”
“The whole building was full of smoke, the whole neighborhood was covered with smoke,” another neighbor, John Greene, said.
The Gilmores were getting ready for their Thursday night auction when the fire broke out. Six people, including the business owner and her grandchild, were inside at the time. Everyone got out safely.
A neighbor called 911.
“Within 20 minutes, the entire building was on fire. It was falling to the ground and the grass was on fire. It was very scary to watch,” Zilka said. “The entire Gilmore family has been like a second family to us, and I was very scared for them, but then I saw that everyone got out safely.”
The building was loaded with old and new furniture, antiques and glass. That made fighting the fire more difficult. The weather was also a factor.
Rostraver Fire Chief Richard Maglet said, “It was very tough on the guys, humidity was bad. I brought in extra guys, so I could rotate guys to give them a break so they wouldn’t go down.”
What was left of the building was knocked down by a backhoe and aided by blasts from fire hoses. At one point, the fire chief had to run for cover when one of the last sections of a wall came crashing down.
Anyone who runs consignment through the auction house or may have any type of insurance claim to make in connection to the fire is asked to be patient.
The fire was under control by 6 p.m. The cause is under investigation.
No one was injured, and the Gilmores said the building was insured.