Fire Knocks Out Communications in Cameron County Seat

EMPORIUM, Pa. (AP) -- A fire destroyed four downtown workplaces and seven apartments in and this northcentral Pennsylvania borough Friday morning before being brought under control.

No serious injuries were reported, state police Trooper Mike Knight said.

County Commissioner Glen Fiebig said the fire destroyed cables that carried both land and cellular telephone service for much of the county. Cellular service was still being worked on Friday evening, the county emergency management office said. Fiebig said regular phone service might be down for days.

Maria Smith, of the Pennsylvania Emergency Operations Center, said telephone service was down in the exchange serving Emporium, a borough of 2,500 residents about 150 miles northeast of Pittsburgh that is the county seat of Cameron County.

Several fire companies from Cameron and Potter counties responded to the overnight fire, which destroyed the Christmas Shop, the area chamber of commerce, a restaurant and a video store.

But authorities were grateful that the damage was not worse.

"Had there been wind, we would have lost a whole city block," Fiebig told The Daily Press of St. Marys for Saturday's issue.

Electric power was restored by Friday night, the county emergency management office said.

Eleven fire companies from three counties responded to the fire.

"I am so elated with the amount of cooperation we received," Fiebig said. "To think what could have happened."