Latrobe fire was arson; building owned by police officer
By Kate Wilcox
Published: Saturday, April 20, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
State police fire marshals say that a late-night blaze at the Grub and Pub on Ligonier Street in Latrobe was arson.
Their investigation stretched on through Friday afternoon as store owners and employees from nearby bars and restaurants waited outside on Ligonier Street for news.
County detectives, Latrobe police and city firefighters assisted in the investigation. The state police K-9 unit was called in to search for an accelerant at the building.
State police Trooper Seth Helman would not comment on the type of accelerant used.
“That's my ace in the hole,” he said.
Helman said his investigation, including the K-9 search and video and photos from the fire, led him to conclude it was arson.
Westmoreland County tax records indicate the property is owned by city police officer Jeffrey Regula. He could not be reached for comment.
There was a fire earlier this month at a four-unit apartment building at the intersection of Main Street and Truman Avenue, which also is owned by Regula. State police fire marshals interviewed Regula on Friday morning.
Detectives spent most of the morning and afternoon interviewing store owners and employees in Scotty G's Pizzeria, two doors down from the Grub and Pub.
The fire in the 900 block of Ligonier Street started around 8:45 p.m. Thursday in a vacant apartment above the Grub and Pub at 903 Ligonier St.
At the time of the fire, there were about four people inside the bar and another 10 inside the Latrobe Athletic Club next door on Main Street.
Firefighters battled the blaze for four hours.
“It was stubborn, with very heavy smoke and heavy fire,” said Latrobe fire Chief John Brasile. “We chased it around a while.”
The building had been remodeled several times with drop ceilings and several layers of roofing material, making the blaze difficult to battle.
There were no injuries in the fire, Brasile said.
Grub and Pub bartender Deanna Merenda was in the back of the bar when she thought she heard a bar stool falling. Everything was calm in the bar, but when she went outside, Merenda saw the front of the building was on fire.
The Grub and Pub's ceiling crashed down to the floor, Brasile said. Helman described it as a total loss with about $100,000 in damage.
Two doors down, Scotty G's had minor water damage but remained closed for business because of the ongoing investigation. It should open again this week, said owner Scott Goodlin.
Friday morning, Jessica Beam, owner of the Steel Wheel Grill next door, waited to hear how much damage had been caused to her restaurant, which just opened Feb. 1.
Beam was leaving for the night when her husband, Christopher, spotted the fire.
“It was contained at first, but then it spread quickly,” she said.
The restaurant sustained water and smoke damage, according to Brasile.
The Latrobe Athletic Club was open for business Friday morning despite some smoke and water damage. Co-owner Shari Johnson said there were customers lined up waiting to get in at 5:30 a.m.
“It's like a family here,” she said. “They were worried.”
County detectives and Latrobe police will continue the investigation.
Kate Wilcox is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6155 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Latrobe couple accused of using car trunk to end son’s fear of the dark
- Ligonier Y ups security in response to threat
- South Greensburg bugler still playing ‘Taps,’ but few others continue tradition
- Gunman robs pizza delivery driver in Greensburg
- Police say student made Greensburg Salem bomb threat
- Grant funds boost Westmoreland recreation projects
- No tax hike in budget for Ligonier Township
- Greensburg man remains hospitalized after crash
- Workers injured at Unity Township facility for youths
- County takes lead on Monsour demolition
- Ex-employees to split $9,176 in pension mess