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Fire engulfs 3-story building; 1 dead

March 20, 2011

An early-morning fire Saturday destroyed a 3-story brick building along Main Street in downtown Ridgway. One person died and 14 others were injured as a result. Photo by Joseph Bell.

RIDGWAY - A fire destroyed a 3-story building at 205 Main St. in Ridgway early Saturday morning.
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.
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 appeared to start 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. A ladder truck from the Brockway Volunteer Fire Department arrived at approximately 3:20 a.m. to assist.
Traffic was redirected as Main Street in Ridgway was closed off for several blocks from 2:15 a.m. to approximately 11 a.m. The last fire truck to leave the scene exited at roughly 10:50 a.m.
The first floor contained Ling Ling Chinese Restaurant and Aiello Land Development Group LLC. The extent of the damage to Aiello Land Development Group LLC was not immediately clear but the restaurant reportedly sustained heavy water damage. The second and third floors contained four apartment units each and all were reportedly damaged by fire, according to a fire marshal report obtained early Saturday afternoon. According to reports, the building's owner is Edward Aiello of Ridgway.
The damage of the fire is estimated at $750,000. The investigation regarding the fire's cause and origin is continuing.
The Salvation Army of Ridgway is accepted monetary donations and clothing for the families affected by the fire. Donors may designate a specific family for their donation otherwise it will be split up depending upon the demand. Clothing donations also are being accepted and interested donors may call the Salvation Army in Ridgway at 772-0485 to inquire about specific sizes.

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