Fire destroyed a vacant building in Meyersdale late Sunday, and patrons of a hotel and restaurant next door were forced to evacuate, authorities said.
A state police fire marshal is investigating the fire that broke out in the rear of the former Slammerz Bar at 122 Center St. around 10:30 p.m. The fire has been ruled arson, state police said.
“I live about two miles from here,” Meyersdale fire Chief Tim Miller said.“I could see the glow in the sky, so I asked for a second and third alarm immediately.”
The fire forced the evacuation of Morguen Toole Co. next door. It sustained heavy smoke and water damage.
“The owners were getting their patrons out,” Miller said.
The restaurant was closed at the time, but between 25 and 30 people were evacuated from the hotel area, Morguen co-owner Andrea Hoover said.
“We were able to get all their luggage and bikes out,” Hoover said. “They have been taken care of and sent on their way.”
The guests were bicyclists using the nearby hiking and biking trail. They were able to find rooms at area bed and breakfast facilities, she said.
Multiple fire companies from Somerset County and as far as Allegany County, Maryland, battled the blaze into the early hours Monday. One firefighter was taken to the hospital with what was believed to be a minor injury, Miller said.
Miller praised the teamwork.
“Without their help, that block probably wouldn’t be standing,” Miller said.
The fire nearly exhausted the borough’s water supply as firefighters battled to keep the blaze from burning out of control.
“We had to set up tanker shuttles to bring in water from the Casselman River,” Miller said.
Firefighters used about 1million gallons of water, forcing the Meyersdale Municipal Authority to urge residents to conserve water.
Borough residents should not wash cars and lawns for the remainder of the week to allow water tanks to replenish, said Julia Weimer, the authority’s office manager.
A professional cleaning crew and about 50 volunteers are working to clean up the adjacent business, Hoover said.
The Meyersdale Area Merchants’ Association is leading the volunteer effort, she said.
“I’m overwhelmed,” she said.
Hoover credited firefighters with keeping the fire from engulfing the entire neighborhood. In the wake of the fire, words were hard to come by.
“I wish I had the perfect words,” she said. “It was amazing to see the firemen at work.
“It was a treacherous fire,” Hoover said. “They saved our building and the town.”
Morguen’s is expected to reopen in a few days, she said.
Police estimated damage at $160,000. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Somerset state police at 445-4104 or Meyersdale Borough police at 445-1525.
Patrick Buchnowski is a reporter with The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on twitter.com/PatBuch-nowskiTD.