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Big Run Carpet owner rebuilding after blaze

November 14, 2011

Jeff London, owner of Big Run Carpet, shows some of the items that were retrieved from the fire that destroyed his store in June. The Bible was burned on the edges, but not one word was damaged by the flames. (Photo by Larry McGuire/The Punxsutawney Spirit)

BIG RUN — Following a year in which his business was destroyed in an incident of arson, Jeff London, the owner of Big Run Carpet, is slowly putting the pieces back together as his store is rebuilt.

London said it took only four days from when the fire occurred early Sunday, June 19, from Monday to Thursday before he was back in business.
He had everything up and running, including two small buildings, Internet, telephone and his carpet samples, and was back in business, thanks to the generosity of the community.

Nothing was salvageable from the former store, which was severely damaged by the fire later determined as arson by the Punxsutawney-based Pennsylvania State Police fire marshal.

"We started from scratch; the Big Run Fire Company donated the buildings, (and) friends donated the desk, chairs and refrigerator," he said. "My brother, Kim London of Jefferson Machine, helped with purchasing the needed office supplies to run the business."

London said the night of the fire, he thought for a short time that firefighters would be able to extinguish the blaze. Then all of a sudden, all at once, the fire took off.

"The appreciation I've gained for the volunteer firefighters is immense," he said.

He received a call from his friend George Powers, of George Powers Construction, alerting him to the fire, London said, adding that he never considered closing the store.

"It was the firefighters who inspired me to not give up, after they put their lives on the line for my store," he said. "There were young firefighters up on the roof of my building, trying to extinguish the blaze."

London said for him to put his tail between his legs and not start over would not be right after everyone sacrificed so much.

There was one item that survived the fire: A King James version of the Bible, blackened on the outside of the pages, but on the inside, not one word is missing.

Other items that survived the flames included an angel, a Noah's Ark figurine made by his daughter and some pictures of his late wife.

Charlie Dobson, of Dobson Construction, contractor for the new store, said the new building will have a completely different look from the former location, which was built in many sections that were added on over the years.

It will be smaller, but of all steel and more energy efficient, Dobson said. The ceiling will be much higher, and London will be able to stand up his carpet rolls.

The entrance will face Route 119 with parking available in the front of the store.

London said he's excited about opening his new store and being able to sell some of the new technology that the flooring industry will be utilizing in the future.

The new Big Run Carpet is expected to be open by Jan. 1; in the meantime, London plans to continue in his two small out-buildings.
In August, police arrested and charged Anthony Overbeck, 18, Big Run, with the fire at Big Run Carpet and a number of other fires in the area.

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