Fire in Ashland Forces up to 10 People from Homes

ASHLAND, Pa. -- A sandwich shop and row homes are left gutted by a fire that took place overnight on Centre Street in Ashland.

The fire chief says everyone made it out of the homes, but this is the second time in a month the borough has dealt with a fire that destroyed several homes all at once.

Cell phone video captured by Russell White of Ashland shows flames roaring out of the windows of the M&M Sandwich Shop on Centre Street.

"It was engulfed pretty quick. It was burning really fast," said White.

Crews rushed in just after 3:30 a.m. Sunday to battle the flames that ripped through the shop and the five buildings next to it.

Now, all that remains are charred shells of these homes.

"It's just devastating what our people have to go through when there is a big fire like this," added neighbor William Sierdzinski.

The fire chief in Ashland says eight to 10 people are displaced because of this fire, and the Red Cross is helping them.

Three firefighters had to be treated for minor injuries and are reported to be OK.

State police fire marshals are investigating the cause, but the roofs of the buildings have caved in, which could make that hard for investigators.

"All the lives were saved, and that's the main thing. Material that was lost you can always replace that, but you can't replace any living body or anybody," said Sierdzinski.

The owner of the M&M Sandwich Shop tells Newswatch 16 he took over that business 10 years ago today.

Now, officials say his business and the homes next to it will need to be torn down.

Folks who live in Ashland say that's a shame not only for the people here who lost everything but the community and its economy as a whole.

"Every time this happens, it not only impacts the property owners, it impacts everybody. We lose a business, we lose the residents, and the people, God love them, they lost all their belongings," said Chief Philip Groody of the Ashland Fire Department.

"Well, it's another half a block that's gonna be empty in Ashland and then people have to relocate, and a lot of the people don't come back, and Ashland needs all the people around to support its local businesses, so it's devastating," added White.

Investigators say they will be back to investigate on Monday. The damage is so severe, they tell Newswatch 16 they may never know what caused the fire. After that, the buildings will be torn down, most likely by the middle of the week.

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