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Cause of Vandergrift business fire may never be known

posted Nov 18, 2016, 9:50 PM by Joseph Gray


A firefighter enters the front door of Carpenter's Cafe on Longfellow Street in Vandergrift on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016 while mopping up after a blaze that dstroyed two buildings on Friday.
A firefighter enters the front door of Carpenter's Cafe on Longfellow Street in Vandergrift on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016 while mopping up after a blaze that dstroyed two buildings on Friday.
Photo by Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
    
The cause of a fire that destroyed the Carpenter's Cafe building in Vandergrift may never be known because the building collapsed into a pile of rubble that continued to burn well into the next day, a state police fire marshal said Monday.

The fire started just after 7 p.m. Friday after the cafe at 229 Longfellow St. had closed for the day. The fire then spread to an adjoining building at 231 Longfellow St., a former candy store.

Both buildings are total losses and will have to be torn down, fire officials said. An estimate of the damage was not available.

A state police fire marshal listed the cause as undetermined, Trooper Joseph Lauricia said Monday. He said an independent investigation will likely be conducted by the buildings' insurers to try to determine the cause.

Steve Tatar, 50, of East Vandergrift, said he bought 229 Longfellow and rehabbed the building for the diner that has been operated by his girlfriend for more than four years. Tatar, who is a carpenter, and his girlfriend, Marcie Martin, could not be reached Monday.

Firefighters battled the blaze for about eight hours and had to go back Saturday to put out hot spots that flared, said Steve Potoka, chief of Vandergrift Volunteer Fire Department No. 2.

Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4711 or cbiedka@tribwebcom.

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