Surrounding communities step up to help McDonald after fire

June 17, 2014
Twisted metal was pretty much all that remained after a fire gutted the McDonald Borough garage Monday. - Francesca Sacco/Observer-Reporter Order a Print

It could be at least six months before McDonald Borough is up and running on its own again.

On Monday, the borough’s municipal garage caught fire, destroying everything inside. While the community remains in shock, the slow process of rebuilding has begun.

Early Tuesday, borough officials held an emergency meeting to assess the damage and meet with an insurance adjuster.

McDonald Council President MariLou Ritchie said the charred remnants of the former garage along the 300 block of East O’Hara Street must be demolished before the borough can move forward.

“We don’t have a time frame,” she said. “It could be at least six months before we have a new building in place.”

Ritchie said the total loss has yet to be determined. She said the damage could be well above the $700,000 figure provided Monday to the Observer-Reporter.

“Anything you can think of was in that building,” she said. “We lost everything.”

Among the destroyed items were mowers, two trucks and a cart used to pull items from different sites.

Ritchie said the borough must specify every item that was stored in the building and provide its insurance company with a current price in order to be reimbursed.

“It’s going to take awhile,” she said.

A state police fire marshal is investigating the cause of the blaze. Early speculation indicated that welding equipment could have been the culprit.

Witnesses reported hearing a hissing noise and a loud pop before the building went up in flames. At least 10 different fire departments and roughly 100 firefighters responded. No injuries were reported.

Initially, there were some concerns about staging McSummerfest, a major local festival that is only two weeks away. However, Ritchie doesn’t foresee any problems. Between the volunteer fire department’s versatility and support from neighboring communities, Ritchie said everything should move along as planned this summer, minus some road maintenance.

“Oakdale called while the building was on fire,” she said. “They offered us anything we need.”

Others have followed suit. Robinson Township Supervisors Chairman Rodger Kendall said the township’s public works crew will assist McDonald with maintenance and grass cutting.

“It’s the neighborly thing to do,” he said. “We always help each other out.”

Francesca Sacco joined the Observer-Reporter as a staff writer in November 2013, and covers the Washington County Courthouse and education. Prior to working with the Observer-Reporter, Francesca was a staff writer with a Gannett paper in Ohio. She graduated from Point Park University with a dual bachelor’s degree in print and broadcast journalism.

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