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Community bands together for local man who lost business in blaze

June 20, 2011

These are the remains of Big Run Carpet on Thompson Street in Big Run, which was destroyed by fire at 12:48 a.m. Sunday. The state police fire marshal is investigating the blaze that appeared to originate in the rear of the building. Damage is estimated at $500,000. (Photo by Larry McGuire/The Punxsutawney Spirit)

BIG RUN — After a devastating fire Sunday, Big Run Carpet owner Jeff London, who vowed to keep his business running, received some surprise help.

Monday, local volunteer firefighters and community members presented him with two temporary shelters to house an office and carpet samples as he recovered from the blaze that destroyed his business. The shelters, one of which was sent over by local firefighters, were delivered to the scene of the fire on Thompson Street Monday.

In an e-mail he sent to The Spirit, J. Paul London, Jeff London’s brother, said, “the buildings are prefabricated units delivered and set up, and my brother had no idea that the arrangements had been made prior to them being delivered.”

It is undoubtedly welcome help in a fire Todd Peace, Big Run Area Fire Company chief, said he believes is suspicious.

Peace said the fire began in the rear of the 30-year-old business, where no source to spark the fire exists.

The investigation into the cause of the fire that destroyed Big Run Carpet early Sunday morning continued Monday, with damage estimated at $500,000.

The huge fire reported at 12:48 a.m. Sunday was through the entire building when firefighters arrived on the scene minutes after the alarm was reported.

Peace said firefighters from Jefferson and Clearfield counties fought the blaze all night, and it was finally brought under control at 4 a.m.

The state police fire marshal is working to discover the cause of the fire that destroyed the 30-year-old family business. The fire marshal had a dog brought to the scene to help determine if an accelerant of some type was used to start the fire.

J. Paul London said he wanted to thank the firefighters for “an outstanding and unselfish show of support by those volunteers who risked harm and spent hours battling the blaze” at the store.

He also said a Punxsutawney business owner “had his workers clear out space in his warehouse, should Jeff (London) need some temporary space for delivered goods and orders,” and added that “another local businessman offered some additional services at no cost to clear up the parking area (which was not normally used) at the old site, as it will be a primary parking area while the demolition efforts are taking place.

“Yes it is through these unselfish efforts and phone calls for additional offers of help by friends and strangers as well as regular customers that give my brother Jeff that extra shot, which is the boost he needed to reinforce his resilience to adversity,” J. Paul London said. “We live in a great area; people really step up to the plate to help others when the chips are down, and we all need to be proud of that fact.”

J. Paul London also gave “a special thank you to all the volunteers who performed as well as any paid/professionals could, while fighting a very stubborn and potentially dangerous blaze.

“It is the reason that so many of us have made the decision to stay here in the place we call home,” he said.
Peace also had words of praise for his fellow firefighters. There were more than 200 firefighters who fought the blaze throughout the night, with 46 interior firefighters rotating in and out of the burning structure, Peace said, adding that he wanted to personally thank all the departments for a fantastic job.

The fire departments that assisted Big Run at the scene were Sykesville, McCalmont Township, Brady Township, Mahaffey, Punxsutawney-Central, Elk Run and Lindsey with Tower 40, and West Sandy.
Rossiter ran the tanker fill site throughout the night.

Standby unit included Glen Campbell at Big Run; Reynoldsville at Sykesville; Perry Township at Lindsey; and Knox Dale at McCalmont.

Anyone with information about Sunday’s fire is urged to call PSP-Punxsutawney at 938-0510.

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