Lightning ignites fire at Passavant building
Worker credited for fast action
Butler Eagle
Written by:
October 3, 2012
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Firefighters work Sunday morning on the roof of a building at the Passavant Retirement Community in Zelienople. No one was inside when fire broke out. Damage was estimated at $2,500.

ZELIENOPLE — A lightning strike started a fire early Sunday morning in the roof of a building at the Passavant Retirement Community on Main Street.

“It blew a hole in the roof,” said Chief Rob Reeb of the Zelienople Volunteer Fire Department.

Since the room houses fitness equipment and offices, no one was inside when the fire ignited.

Ed Rice, a maintenance worker, saw the lightning strike, grabbed a ladder and fire extinguisher to spray the flames.

Reeb credited Rice with preventing the fire from spreading.

“It didn't even get any water damage,” Reeb said.

After responding to the 3:39 a.m. 911 call, firefighters ensured the blaze was doused and cut away damaged portions of the roof.

The building has a tarp covering the hole in the roof until repairs are made.

Roughly 40 firefighters responded. The Harmony, Evans City, Cranberry Township, Ellwood City and Franklin Township, Beaver County, fire departments assisted Zelienople.

They cleared the scene at 5:09 a.m.

Reeb estimates damages at $2,500.

Laura Roy, executive director of the Passavant Retirement Community, said Monday morning that repairs were being made to the electrical system and the hole would be patched this week.

“We have a bit of work to do,” Roy said.

She credited Rice, a nurse's aide and a housekeeper for their efforts.

“A fantastic team effort, they did everything they were trained to do,” Roy said.

She said the roughly 4,800-square-foot building serves as a fitness center, but will eventually become a maintenance garage once a construction project is complete.