Indian Creek Valley Community Center officials await news on cause of fire
Officials from the Indian Creek Valley Community Center are waiting to learn from the state police fire marshal the cause of a fire that destroyed the center early Saturday.
Firefighters from numerous departments were on the scene of the fire for more than four hours Saturday morning.
It was the second fire in almost 20 years that damaged the facility in Saltlick.
The center, at 628 Indian Creek Valley Road, was used for numerous community functions. It originally opened in 1953.
Saltlick firefighters were called to the center at 2 a.m. Saturday, fire Chief Max Gales said.
Gales said a female motorist reported the fire to Fayette 911.
Departments remained on the scene until about 6 a.m.
“When we got there, it was really burning. The fire was already coming out the front door and it was going back in through to the main hall,” Gales said.
The fire quickly spread, and soon the entire northern end of the building was engulfed, Gales said.
He said the fire marshal was called.
Damage to the facility is extensive, Gales said.
“It's a total loss,” Gales said. “It's a tress roof, and when the tresses caught fire, they collapsed into the hall side. They burned and the roof split right down the middle.”
The building caught fire in 1995 and the center was rebuilt.
Gales said that fire was severe but he believes the building sustained more damage during this weekend's blaze than the one in 1995.
“This one was much worse. They rebuilt the last time but I don't think that there is any rebuilding of it this time,” Gales said.
More than a dozen fire departments from Fayette, Westmoreland and Somerset counties responded to the fire.
Mt. Pleasant VFD Chief Gerald Lucia said his department was called to the scene about 2:30 a.m. Mt. Pleasant took its tower and air trucks and an engine.
“That was really a nice building for the community up there, and now it's a total loss,” Lucia said.
The building is owned by the Indian Creek Valley Lions, which operated the center in conjunction with a community center board of directors.
“We rebuilt it back in 1995, but there was a lot of damage this time,” Indian Creek Valley Lions President Jerry Gearhart said as he surveyed the damage. Gearhart said the building is insured and if the decision is made to rebuild the structure, it would probably be on a smaller scale.
“We had this booked all through summer, so the summer is pretty much ruined,” Gearhart said.
Gearhart said there are pavilions behind the center in a wooded area that still will be available for rent.
No one was in the building when the fire broke out and no injuries were reported.
“This is just such a shame,” Gearhart said. “It's really, really a shame.”
Marilyn Forbes is a contributing writer.