Bloomsburg community center burns
BLOOMSBURG - A fire extensively damaged a historic building in the downtown district Thursday, damaging several small businesses and the works of local artists.
Fire and smoke swept through the Moose Exchange, a three-story brick building operated by a non-profit arts organization of the same name, on the northwest corner of Main and Jefferson streets.
The former Loyal Order of the Moose building is marketed as a community center and an entrepreneurial incubator, which contains a dozen business, the Stairwell Gallery, a bowling alley and the Art Deco Grille Room, which hosts arts programs presented by Bloomsburg University.
Richard Briggs, promoter of "Destination Blues," a music festival presented by Briggs Farm Blues scheduled next weekend at the Exchange, and a small group of event officials were having a meeting at 11:30 a.m. near the front of the building when the fire was discovered.
"The janitor ran in and said there was a fire in the back of the building," he said. "We went to the back of the building and saw smoke, but no flames; that's when we knew it was the real thing."
Bloomsburg Fire Chief Robert Rupp said a state police fire marshal will determine the exact cause of the fire, but that it may have started at or near the back of the building where combustible materials were located.
Rupp said the fire, brought under control in approximately two hours, caused cracks to form inside the building. A code enforcement officer will determine if the building can be salvaged, he said.
"Destination Blues" will be held at the Caldwell Consistory, a block east of the fire scene.