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Lightning blamed for Dormont fire

| Thursday, June 19, 2014, 10:57 p.m.

Fire officials said lightning from severe thunderstorms might have sparked a fire that damaged a popular Dormont grocery.

Dormont Deputy Fire Chief Jim Kolesky said seven fire companies responded to a three-alarm fire that started about 10:20 p.m. Wednesday at People's Food Mart on Potomac Avenue.

Kolesky called the damage to the market, which was closed Thursday, “substantial but repairable.” A fire marshal hasn't confirmed a cause, he said.

“It happened right during the peak of that storm,” Kolesky said. The store was closed, and no one was inside when the fire started.

Next door, Sara Bigos was closing Knossos Gyros after 10 p.m. when she heard a bang and felt the building shake. “It scared me, how loud it was,” Bigos, 26, of Beechview said.

Several minutes later, she said, a few kids banged on the restaurant's windows, shouting that the building was on fire. Bigos said she went outside, saw flames on the market's roof and called 911.

People's Food Mart opened in 2011 in Dormont's business district. Owners couldn't be reached for comment.

“It's a community-run store. I'm sure there are a lot of people that rely on them to get their groceries,” said Jaime Wilson-Spik, 35, of Dormont. She believed she heard a lightning strike from her home a street away and worried that it hit her business, Alter Ego Body Art Studio, two doors from People's Food Mart.

Dormont resident Dana DeSimone, 53, said the store owner tries to provide the community with something it didn't have before. She has to take a trolley in order to get to another grocery store, she said.

People's front window was covered with boards on Thursday, and damage was evident from the street. Passers-by on Potomac Avenue stopped and talked about the fire.

Kelsey Shea is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at kshea@tribweb.com or at 724-772-6353.

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