Neighbors: Atlas building was an eyesore
ATLAS - Those living near 151 W. Girard St. that burned early Tuesday said it has been vacant for at least 20 years and represents one of the large eyesores in the village.
Atlas Fire Chief Charles Gasperetti, also a Mount Carmel Township supervisor, called for more action to address blight before he had even wrapped up the firefighting effort Tuesday.
"Blight has been the black sheep of Mount Carmel Township," he said at the scene Tuesday morning. "We are going to have to find some money to rip down these homes."
Cindi Fetterolf and Phil Showver, who live across West Girard Street from the vacant building, were sleeping when someone alerted them to the fire.
"They are going to have to tear them down now," Fetterolf said while she watched firefighters battle the flames. "The firefighters are doing a great job, as always," she added.
Susanna Winters and Paul Bridy, of Raleigh, N.C., own the building, according to Northumberland County Tax Claims Bureau records.
"I haven't seen anything come out of there lately, except for skunks and about 10 cats," Showver said. "They do keep it boarded up pretty well, but I have seen kids try to get in there before."
Gasperetti hopes the fire calls further attention to the township's blight issue.
"Whether it be at the state level, Northumberland County or Mount Carmel Township, money has to be set aside to take care of abandoned structures," he said. "We got a bid to do this project for between $50,000 and $60,000, so hopefully we can find some emergency funding to take care of it."