Firefighters Forced to Return to Scene of Sunday Fire in Pennsylvania

Sugar Notch, PA -- Delicate icicles hanging from every corner of a former school building in Sugar Notch, and freshly fallen snow blanketing the ground, belied the battle that was waged Sunday night into Monday night.

Firefighters from at least six communities coped with stubborn flames and intense cold alike while trying to douse a blaze that struck the former St. Charles Elementary School at 223 Chestnut St. Sunday around 9 p.m.

The building, which was for sale through Lawrence Real Estate, housed Brill Business Systems and Steve Goret Furniture Restoration. A former tenant in the building said to be Harry Grozio, a restorer of antique billiard tables, also kept stock there.

Robert Rogers, who had moved his business, Rogers Restoration, to Freeland last May, visited the scene Monday to see how his friends fared.

"The floor (of the second level) caved into Steve's shop," he said. "The whole upstairs is gone." Rogers said Grozio had several billiard tables in the building.

Efforts to reach Grozio, Goret and Jeffrey Brill throughout the day on Monday were unsuccessful.

Though the fire was battled for about six hours Sunday night into early Monday morning, it continued to cause problems hours later.

Sugar Notch Fire Chief Bill Hagan spent a sleepless night dealing with the blaze, only to be called out again Monday night when the fire rekindled at about 8:30 p.m.

Hagan left the scene at 7 a.m. Monday to go to work. In his absence, Nanticoke Fire Department, which had about 14 firefighters at the scene Sunday night, was asked to bring its ladder truck back late Monday morning to douse it again.

"We're still thawing out the apparatus," Nanticoke Fire Captain Chester Prymowicz said early Monday afternoon.

The roof of the building had completely collapsed and the interior was nearly gutted by that point, but there were still "hot spots" that kept frustrating firefighters.

The fire started up again later that night in the left corner of the building, on the second floor, according to Hagan.

The cause of the fire was still unknown as of Monday night. Hagan said the state police fire marshal had been at the scene with one of his deputies earlier in the day, but he had not yet seen a report.

State police could only say the fire was still under investigation.

Firefighters from Ashley, Slocum Township, Fairview Township, Laurel Run Borough, Nanticoke and Hanover Township assisted Sugar Notch.