By: Jessica Guay
EAST MCKEESPORT (KDKA) – A beloved, family-owned flower shop in East McKeesport caught fire and the flames spread to an apartment Saturday afternoon.READ MORE: Pennsylvania Ended Extended Jobless Benefits, Unemployment Rate Falls Below 5%
It was a close call for co-owner Mary Lechliter King and her employees. A neighbor noticed Lea’s Floral Shop was on fire and quickly alerted everyone inside.
Lea’s Floral Shop has been around for 62 years and 4 generations but this staple in the community won’t burn out.
“I ran out and as we ran out, the compressors in the basket room blew up. So, all that smoke and soot and everything came down and we were just trying to run away from it,” said Lechliter King.
For decades, families in and around East McKeesport have relied on the family business for fresh arrangements for anniversaries, birthdays, funerals, or for no reason at all.
“1959, my grandpap bought it then brought my Mom on board. She was here for 50 years,” said Lechliter King.
Saturday was a normal day for Lechliter King and her employees until a neighbor alerted them that the second floor of the shop was on fire. Flames quickly spread to an apartment.
Everyone inside the business and the tenant of the apartment got out safely, but a cat did not survive.
“As fast as it went up, we could have had so much more damage, we could have been hurt, the building is replaceable, the merchandise is replaceable. All my employees aren’t, they are not,” said Lechliter King.READ MORE: Hundreds March Through Pittsburgh In Solidarity With Palestine
She said this wasn’t the family’s first fire at the business.
“It was very scary. We actually had the same exact fire in 1983, so we’ve been through this already once,” said Lechliter King.
The second floor of the business is destroyed. Lechliter King said on the first floor it appears the front showroom and side room are okay but the back, workroom has a lot of water damage.
Firefighters worked quickly to save what they could.
“We were able to get a quick knock and we were able to get our trucks set up here. All the crews did great work here. It was just impeccable timing with everybody,” said Anthony Swidorsky, he’s the deputy chief for United Volunteer Fire/Rescue.
Lea’s Floral Shop will re-bloom and they will re-build.
“We’ll get back up and running again,” said Lechliter King.
Lechliter King said they will work out of a garage. They will try to be up and running by Monday.
Firefighters said the apartment could be salvaged someday but it is not livable right now.MORE NEWS: 'A Solemn Day For A Solemn Ride': Local Police Honor Fallen Officers With Memorial Ride
The Allegheny County Fire Marshal is investigating the cause.