Cause of Sunbury fire undetermined; investigation continues
SUNBURY - The cause of the fire that damaged three Sunbury apartment buildings Sunday afternoon has been ruled undetermined by officials, but the investigation remains open.
Sunbury Fire Chief Mike Rhoads said local fire officials and state police Fire Marshal Kirk Renn were in the 200 block of Chestnut Street Monday inspecting the scene and trying to determine where and how the fire started.
Rhoads said the 4 p.m. blaze began on the west exterior wall of the building at 253 Chestnut St., a four-rental apartment building owned by Brad Niemic and Megan Beck, of Sunbury, but the exact cause was not apparent.
"The investigation is remaining open as the fire marshal does some testing," Rhoads said. "We are also being assisted by city police as we progress."
Sunbury Police Chief Stephen Mazzeo said officers have conducted interviews, but are awaiting the determination from Renn and the Sunbury Fire Department on whether the fire was accidental or of some other nature.
No one commenting Monday used the word suspicious.
Firefighters from approximately 10 municipalities, including Sunbury, surrounding areas and Shamokin and Coal Township battled the blaze for almost four hours before bringing it under control. All 10 occupants and their pets escaped the buildings unharmed.
Rhoads said Sunday winds hampered firefighting efforts and caused the blaze to spread quickly, but that all crews worked well to contain the fire to the three buildings and save the historic Chestnut Inn at 261 Chestnut St.
Rhoads said 257 Chestnut St. is a two-unit rental owned by Zeus Rentals LLC, of Northumberland, while 249 Chestnut St. was occupied on the first floor by owner Eugene Heller, who rented out the second floor.
All three building owners are insured, Rhoads said Monday, but he has not had the opportunity to speak with all of the renters to see if they are covered. American Red Cross representative said they were helping four renters displaced by the blaze.