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Fire deemed accidental, investigation continues

March 21, 2011

An early-morning fire Saturday destroyed a 3-story brick building along Main Street in downtown Ridgway. Photo by Joseph Bell.

RIDGWAY – State Police at Ridgway said Monday that the cause of Saturday morning's fire that gutted a 3-story building along the 200 block of downtown Ridgway was accidental.
Timothy Keyser, age 45, of Ridgway, died in the fire. As firefighters worked to rescue Keyser, he fell out of his third floor window. Keyser was rushed to the hospital but later died from his injuries. Everett Fowler, age 62, also of Ridgway, was transported to Elk Regional Medical Center and later transported via helicopter to Pittsburgh for more medical treatment for smoke inhalation; 13 additional victims' status ranged from minor injuries to no injuries and were left homeless. They are being assisted by the Red Cross.
According to Trooper Greg Agosti, a fire marshal, the cause of the fire was accidental in nature but the investigation is still continuing. While Agosti did not specify whether or not the blaze ignited due to an electrical malfunction, he did indicate that some electrical wires still needed to be tested.
Agosti also pointed out that the rumors that the 3-story structure housed a small-scale methamphetamine laboratory are unfounded and completely false.
"While the fire definitely originated from the second floor, there is no foul play suspected and there was no sign of drug production or a meth lab of any kind," Agosti said.
The blaze broke out at approximately 2:15 a.m. Two Ridgway Borough Police cruisers were the first to arrive at the scene before multiple fire department units from Ridgway and the surrounding area responded.
The fire started on the second floor as flames shot out of two windows at the front of the building facing Main Street, while more flames flared out the sides of the building facing Farmers National Bank at 173 Main St. and Dan Dickinson Apartments at 101 N. Mill St.
Ladder trucks from Ridgway and St. Marys were used to help extinguish the fire as flames crept through the collapsed roof at roughly 2:50 a.m. early Saturday morning.

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