Workers from the Altoona City Codes Department were on the fire scene Tuesday afternoon red-tagging what was left of the building. From the time emergency crews arrived on scene minutes after the blaze was reported about 2 a.m., firefighters were dealing with some very difficult conditions. Frigid temperatures overnight took a toll not only on the firefighters but their equipment as well. Fire fighters first tried to control the fire by entering the burning building and pushing the fire back. But because the blaze had spread into the walls and the attic of the structure, there was little they could do but pull back and put water on the building from the outside.
The owner and his father were on scene as the firefighting effort was underway and watched as their restaurant was gutted by the blaze. By the time the fire was out, only a shell of the building was still standing. Fire fighters and city code officers said that was left of the building is no longer safe to enter will have to be demolished in the interest of public safety. For the owner and his family, the loss of the South Altoona business in the historic building located at 39th Street and 5th Avenue will be a huge blow.
The investigation into the cause of the fire is being handled by the Altoona Police and Fire departments. Because what is left of the building is unsafe to enter, that investigation will proceed as the building is torn down within the next couple of weeks.