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Fire destroys Industry snow plowing equipment, supplies

| Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, 9:06 a.m.
James Knox | Tribune-Review
Beaver Borough Manager Chuck Copeland surveys the damage on Friday, February 28, 2014, after a fire destroyed the entire Industry Borough's maintenance department ahead of Sunday's projected snowstorm.

Offers of salt, equipment and manpower poured into Industry hours after a fire on Friday destroyed the borough's maintenance building and snow-fighting equipment, just days before a major winter storm was to hit Western Pennsylvania.

Unity in Westmoreland County diverted nearly 23 tons of salt from its stockpile to Industry, at a cost of about $1,150, when officials there heard about the fire.

“It was the right thing to do,” Supervisor Chairman Michael O'Barto said.

PennDOT delivered between 15 and 20 tons of salt, council members said.

Two members of Beaver's road crew put up barrels and police tape to rope off the smoldering rubble because Industry lacks the equipment to do so.

“If we were in the same situation, they would help us,” said Beaver Manager Charles Copeland II.

Industry, with about 1,850 residents, has one full-time road worker and two part-time ones.

Industry is responsible for plowing 11.5 miles of roads, officials said, though not the community's main road, Route 68, which is state-owned.

The fire destroyed the borough's maintenance building, adjacent to the borough's community park, and an adjoining wooden shelter that stored road salt.

A state police fire marshal was investigating the cause of the fire, first reported at 1:30 a.m. Friday.

The metal-frame maintenance building contained two dump trucks, along with their plows and salt spreaders, a pickup truck, a backhoe, two grass mowers and other equipment — all destroyed.

A stockpile of about 50 tons of salt and sand could not be salvaged because it was contaminated by debris, including nails, and water turned it into a solid.

“After this weekend, we can sit back and look at the big picture, but for now, we have to be ready for whatever's coming,” said Mayor Nick Yanosich.

The borough is insured for the loss, which is expected to total several hundred thousand dollars. The borough bought one truck last year, and it had just 2,500 miles on it.

The fire also slightly damaged a metal storage building that just had been erected on Thursday.

“We were going to store equipment in there,” council member Joe Mulach said.

No injuries were reported. Six Beaver County fire departments responded to the blaze.

Municipalities, including Midland, Beaver and Ohioville, offered emergency assistance.

“I can't even begin to list everyone that's offered to help,” borough Councilman Andy Zachodni said. “I swear it's been everybody in Beaver County, and people from outside the county. Everybody's offering to help.”

Dille and council President Keith Hohenshel said the borough has subcontractors it could use to clear the roads. Because of insurance issues, the men said, they didn't want residents plowing roads themselves.

The weekend forecast is calling for 6 or more inches of snow beginning on Sunday into Monday, with the possibility of ice and sleet.

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or bvidonic@tribweb.com.

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