Greensburg officials to declare emergency after public works fire
An emergency declaration will help Greensburg officials replace and repair damaged public works vehicles and equipment after a fire tore through the South Urania Avenue warehouse where they were stored early Saturday morning, city Mayor Robert Bell said.
“It’s a little more flexible for council to react on some things that we need to take care of without going through major steps in government — all the little steps you have to go through in government, we won’t have to do that,” Bell said.
Officials were called to the public works warehouse around 11:45 p.m. Friday and did not leave the scene until around 4 a.m. Saturday, fire Chief Thomas Bell said. He said the building did not have a fire suppression system. Firefighters were alerted by a smoke detector.
Despite the extent of damage inside that left most of the equipment and walls black from smoke, the fire remained largely contained. It shot through the corners of the roof throughout the night, sending smoke into the sky.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation, but Thomas Bell, who is also is the city’s public works department director, said it is believed to have started in the street sweeper or around the street sweeper, which was destroyed. The blaze may have been caused by an electrical malfunction, he said.
According to Robert Bell, a few trucks were able to be driven out of the warehouse, but those will need to have their electrical systems checked and the insides detailed. Thomas Bell said Saturday the city’s asphalt paver, a shop pickup truck, equipment the city uses in snow plowing, salt sprayers and various tools were damaged.
The mayor was unable to provide the cost of equipment lost, adding that insurance adjusters were assessing the damage Monday .
“We’re going to have to try and approach this from the seasonal standpoint of trying to get the equipment up and running for leaf collection,” Robert Bell said. “We need to get the equipment prepared for snow removal. We have some salt sprayers that are damaged, we need to repair those, plows are damaged. But, all in all we’re not in as bad a shape as it looks but we still got a lot of work ahead of us.”
The mayor predicted it could take up to 30 days to assess the extent of damage to the building.
The public works department will temporarily move near the emergency management building on Main Street. Officials are still searching for a place to store equipment.
“I don’t want to go through this again,” Robert Bell said. “I really don’t. And I don’t want any future councils or mayors to go through this again, but we’re going to have to take a look at every step and take every precaution so we don’t have this happen again.”
Megan Tomasic is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 724-850-1203, [email protected] or via Twitter .