UPDATE: Scrap metal warehouse in downtown Meadville gutted by fire

Posted at: 9:00 p.m. Sunday
Updated at: 6:15 p.m. Tuesday

Smoke from the fire could be seen as far away as Alleghenys campus. Warren Chapline/THE CAMPUS

MEADVILLE, Pa.–A structure fire burned from 6:45 p.m. until around midnight last night in a warehouse at the Bessamer Commerce Park in downtown Meadville.  There were no reported injuries, and no firefighters were sent into the building.

Approximately 75 firefighters from six fire departments and one ambulance, including Meadville Central and the Meadville Volunteer Fire Department, were dispatched around 6:45 p.m., with two other fire departments standing by.

The building was owned by Meadville Metal Company, a division of Erie-based Lincoln Metal Processing, a recycling and sheet-metal producing facility. Andrew Lincoln, president of the Meadville Metal yard and owner of the building, said that the building was used to store scrap metal and recycling equipment and called it a “total loss” in its current state.

“It was just an old warehouse with older equipment in it,” he said. “It doesn’t really impact our operations here; we’re still open for business.”

Lincoln added that the building is currently hazardous to surrounding workers and structures, so he expects to demolish it sometime this week.  He could not comment on the monetary losses incurred from the structure fire, but he said that he expected they would be mostly short-term and related to cleanup.

Though the cause of the fire is unknown, local Meadville residents claimed to have heard a loud explosion around the time the fire began.  A state police fire marshal is currently investigating the issue, though Meadville Chief of Police David Stefanucci says the police have not been contacted to take part in the investigation.

“If it looks suspicious, depending on what looks suspicious, we investigate it,” he said, adding that the police would not be involved in the investigation unless it has been declared to be a case of arson.

But Lincoln is skeptical of the idea that the building caught fire on its own, and claims there was someone seen coming out of the building after the fire started.

Charlie Magovern/THE CAMPUS

“I was just in on Saturday, and I was looking around seeing what was left in the building,” he said. “A building like that just doesn’t go up in flames by itself.

“Someone out there was involved.”

The warehouse fire comes in the wake of the fire, ruled as arson, which gutted a residence on Terrace Street on Sept. 12. Meadville Central Fire Department Captain Robert Fitch refused to comment on the proximity of the two fires, instead remarking on their dissimilarity.

“This was a considerably different fire than a house fire,” he said. “This was a commercial fire.”

Regardless of the outcome of the investigation, Lincoln expects to continue business as usual.

“We’re up and running, taking customers, shipping out steel,” he said.

Dan Bauer contributed reporting.