| Neighborhoods

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Elevator motor fire temporarily disrupts Black Friday shoppers

Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Black Friday shoppers temporarily were evacuated from Sears and other businesses at Century III Mall in West Miffllin after an elevator motor caught fire.

A large amount of smoke was reported in the mall shortly before 9 a.m. The fire was reported by a maintenance worker who was servicing the elevator, authorities said. The worker called for help when he noticed heat coming from a door to the elevator's workings.

West Mifflin No. 4 Skyview Volunteer Fire Co. Assistant Chief Bill Pelikan said the motor and its oil burned within the elevator shaft. No one was injured, but the store and businesses around it were cleared while fire crews remained on scene.

“This could have been very serious,” said Pelikan.

The upper level of Sears reopened about two hours after the fire was extinguished, and the whole store was back open by mid-afternoon.

Mall general manager Gina Mercorelli said the smoke was “disconcerting to say the least,” but said the incident didn't seem to deter many shoppers.

“It's out, the mall's open, and it's still Black Friday,” she said.

Philip Pelusi Salon and several eateries in the food court were among the businesses that closed during the fire.

Information regarding damages from the fire was not available at presstime. The Allegheny County Fire Marshal's office is investigating.

Pelikan said water and special extinguishing agents were used to contain the fire. Others at the scene said the floor in Sears was slippery because of spilled oil.

Shoppers reported seeing and smelling smoke as they entered the Sears side of the mall.

Lisa Haberjak of Port Vue dropped off her vehicle or service shortly after 7:30 a.m. and was returning to the Sears automotive department as the fire began.

“I went into the mall and walked around,” Haberjak said. “I was coming back through, and I walked into Sears just as it started. They were trying to figure out what to do.”

One Sears employee waiting in the parking lot during the ordeal noted that some customers were reluctant to leave the store even after the evacuation notice had been given.

As fire crews from around the borough were responding to the Sears incident, Lebanon Church Road was closed briefly due to a vehicle accident near Rodeo Drive.

Firefighters from Glassport Citizens Hose Co. No. 1 were called to the 10:05 a.m. head-on collision of two SUVs, even though the crash happened directly in front of the West Mifflin VFC No. 3 station.

“All the others were tied up,” said Glassport fire Capt. Wayne Lewis III. Lewis said ambulance crews took two motorists to area hospitals for treatment. Both vehicles sustained heavy damage and were towed from the scene.

Fire crews had to clear spilled motor oil from the intersection, and debris was strewn across Lebanon Church Road, necessitating its closure.

Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or Staff writer Jennifer R. Vertullo contributed to this report.



Show commenting policy

Most-Read McKeesport

  1. Pitt students clean up Mon Valley neighborhoods for annual service day
  2. North Versailles Township commissioner opposes closing Green Valley Primary School
  3. ReClaim McKeesport ambassadors transform vacant lot
  4. Owners hope carousel will bring fresh audience to Century III Mall
  5. McKeesport students raise funds through ‘Pink Out’
  6. Jefferson Hospital touts programs, continues to expand
  7. Propel Homestead playground plans revealed
  8. Indonesian visitors explore learning methods at Steel Valley
  9. National family alliance group tours Auberle projects
  10. Habitat volunteers get taste of circus at East McKeesport site
  11. McKeesport babies, mom OK after home birth
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.