SWOYERSVILLE — A fire broke out Thursday morning at a two-story building that had an apartment upstairs and was being renovated downstairs to house a bar and pizzeria.
Crews from multiple West Side municipalities responded and found flames shooting from the structure. Swoyersville Fire Chief John Konopka said crews encountered “heavy fire in the rear of the building.” The first responders to the building at 1011 Main St., at the corner of Hughes Street, were able to “knock down the fire pretty quickly,” he said.
A state police fire marshal was on the scene, and Konopka said the blaze “is under investigation.”
Half of the roof was missing and most of the windows were broken.
Joe Caruso had been living in a second-floor rear apartment for the past two months. He was mowing a lawn in Duryea when he got a call from his ex-girlfriend, who was staying at his apartment, telling him to come home because his apartment was on fire.
The woman, Cynthia May, was taken to an area hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation.
Passersby saw the fire and smoke and started screaming, Caruso said May told him. She looked outside and people told her to get out because the building was on fire.
Workers were on the first floor doing work on a planned bar and pizzeria that was set to open in a month or so, Caruso said. The signs hanging on the front of the building identified the new businesses as TC Riley’s Pizza and the Back Road Ale House.
The building had been used as a bar called CC Ryders up until about a month ago.
Caruso did not have rental insurance and lost everything, including his clothes and drum kit, he said. “They’re just objects,” Caruso said.
Although the water supply and the number of responders were sufficient to fight the fire, the building’s ceilings were a problem, Konopka said. They were made of a tongue-and-groove material and were much harder to break through than typical drywall, he said.
Carrie Norton is listed on county tax records as the owner of the 17,511-square-foot building. Efforts to reach her Thursday were unsuccessful.