ERIE, Pa. — As flames shot through the roof of a warehouse in the 1400 block of W 21st Street, smoke could be seen for miles.
Melissa DiBacco, the owner of MD services, was at home in Fairview when she received several calls and drove toward the business.
“I saw the smoke by the Country Fair in Millcreek on Zuck Road,” she said.
Erie Deputy Fire Chief John Herrmann said, “We could see the smoke almost from the firehouse when we pulled out of the firehouse. Right off the bat, there was probably 15-20 explosions in the building.”
He suspected that the explosions were caused by propane tanks stored in the building.
The department responded to the fire shortly after 5:15 p.m. on Thursday. After working about an hour to get the fire under control, Herrmann said the structure was too dangerous for firefighters to enter.
“Whatever’s hanging up there is just ready to fall down any second without warning. So, we’re just not taking any chances. That’s all there is to it,” he said.
The landscaping and plowing business had already seen a partial roof collapse on Jan. 8 after record snowfall.
“The rear of the building collapsed due to the weight of the snow,” said DiBacco.
She said that after a couple of weeks of cleanup, the power had just been restored on Tuesday.
“We’ve been working with our insurance company and many contractors to try to get it–it’s been braced up and it was taken care of–but obviously, I don’t know if that had anything to do with what happened now; but it’s been open to the elements for two weeks.”
DiBacco said that there were snow plows, snow blowers, lawn mowers, and other landscaping and snow removal equipment inside. Some of the equipment belongs to subcontractors and others, she said.
A cause of the fire is still under investigation, but officials and the owner were relieved that no one was inside and no one was hurt.
“I mean everything can be replaced, but it’s just heartbreaking,” she said.