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Fire damage figure pending at Burrell eatery

| Thursday, April 11, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

Crews are still at work determining the extent of the damage caused by last month's fire at the Pizza Hut/KFC restaurant on Corporate Drive in Burrell Township.

An electrical malfunction in a men's room exhaust fan started the blaze some time after midnight March 22, according to Black Lick Volunteer Fire Department Chief Bryan Palmer. The business was closed and no one was inside when the fire started, according to Palmer, and an automated fire alarm call went out at 12:44 a.m.

An independent fire investigator confirmed the fire department's findings, according to Doug Lockard, a member of the restaurant's ownership group, LGL Pizza Hut, which also owns the Pizza Hut/KFC restaurant on South Seventh Street in Indiana.

“Given the extent of the fire, there has been structural engineers and other folks in there and they have not gotten back to us with their initial estimates of damage,” Lockard said Tuesday. “There were folks down there again today.”

The Burrell Township location opened in 2000 as a Pizza Hut before remodeling in late 2002 and early 2003 to add the KFC franchise, Lockard said.

The fire damage was contained primarily between the restaurant's ceiling and roof, although Lockard said smoke and water damage penetrated the entire building.

“Once they get back to us with the estimate and the structural engineer reports how serious the structural damage is, we could be anywhere from ... partial reconstruction to a worst-case total reconstruction,” Lockard said. A total reconstruction under ideal conditions would likely take five to six months, according to Lockard.

“It can't happen fast enough for us,” Lockard said of the damage assessments. “We'd like to get all this part of it determined and behind us so we can get plans drawn up to get the building restored and back in business.”

The Armagh-East Wheatfield Township, Blairsville, Clyde, Coral/Graceton, Eastern Derry, Homer City, Indiana and Seward fire departments also responded to the fire, as well as the Rapid Intervention Team and Citizens' Ambulance Service, Palmer said.

Greg Reinbold is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2913 or greinbold@tribweb.com.

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