Fire damages Tomol Auto Sales
STRONG - A firefighter from Mount Carmel suffered an ankle injury when he fell through a burned-out stairwell while helping to extinguish a fire early Tuesday morning at George Tomol Auto Sales.
Brian Hollenbush, Mount Carmel Township fire marshal, had not confirmed the firefighter's identity Tuesday evening, but said he is from Clover Hose Fire Company and that the injury was minor.
Firefighters were pressed into action around 5:15 a.m. by a PennDOT operator passing by the decades-old business located along Route 61 near the intersection with Route 54. Smoke and steam rose out from various parts of the cinder block building while firefighters attacked the blaze from all sides and the roof.
Firefighters were able to control the fire in under an hour, Hollenbush said. He and Shamokin Patrolman Raymond Siko II, who serves as the city's fire investigator, determined the fire started in the basement of the building, where vehicles and equipment were stored.
"Right now we don't know the cause," Hollenbush said Tuesday evening. "Heavy fire damage was kept to the basement with a little bit of extension into the first floor, which had smoke and heat damage."
Owner George Tomol, 72, was at the scene, at one time spreading salt on the ice that was accumulating from water runoff. Tomol, who is insured, has operated the dealership for several years.
Several hundred yards west of the scene on Route 61, a motorist accidently drove over a charged hose line connected to a hydrant in front of DaVita Dialysis, sending a large plume of water into the sky. A 100-foot section will have to be replaced at a cost between $1,000 and $1,500, Hollenbush said.
"We were trying to get fire police there because we were short on manpower," Hollensbush said. "I don't think he is going to be charged. It was a state highway and it wasn't lit well."