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Big Run Carpet owner vows to keep business going after fire

June 20, 2011

Firefighters fight a blaze that destroyed Big Run Carpet, a family-owned business for more than 30 years, early Sunday morning. (Photo by Tom Chapin/The Punxsutawney Spirit)

BIG RUN – A massive fire may have devastated the business that has been in his family more than 30 years, but Big Run Carpet owner Jeff London said he'll sell carpet from his barn, his garage or a tent if he must.

“I have already been on the phone with three sales representatives,” he said Sunday afternoon, just hours after the major fire all but destroyed the business. “They'd better be bringing me samples tomorrow. I'll be selling out of a tent if I have to.

“Hey, what else can I do?” said London, who has owned the business for 14 years. “That's all I have. I've hung out there since I was three years old.”

Firefighters from several local companies responded to the blaze, which broke out around 12:48 a.m. Sunday.

Big Run Area Volunteer Fire Company Chief Todd Peace said that by the time he arrived on-scene, he could see flames spanning from the front of the building, in the office, to the warehouse.

“It was clear through the building,” he said.

London said he was asleep when a friend called to let him know what was happening. He said he could see the sky above the business illuminated as he approached.

“My god, when I came up over the hill, I could see the sky, and I looked at my daughter and said, 'Lex, we're in trouble,'” he said.

There were no injuries, Peace said, and the Punxsutawney-based Pennsylvania State Police fire marshal is also investigating.

Peace deemed the structure as “a total loss” early Sunday morning. And Sunday afternoon, he said he believes the fire is “suspicious.”

Big Run fire units didn't return to their headquarters until 8:28 a.m. Sunday.

London said Big Run Carpet has been in his family since 1977, when his father, John London, bought it from George Kim, who established the business in the late 1960s.

The younger London has owned Big Run Carpet for the last 14 years, employing about five installers.

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