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Fire this morning damages Irene Stacy

February 19, 2014 News Extra

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BUTLER TWP — Fire early this morning heavily damaged a portion of the Irene Stacy Community Mental Health Center complex.

The fire started shortly before 5 a.m. in the roof of the administration wing at the facility on Hillvue Drive in Butler Township, authorities said.

No one was hurt, but the facility was expected to be closed indefinitely.

“There are offices there and there’s a good deal of damage to that section,” said township fire marshal Larry Christy,

A cause was not immediately known but the blaze did not appear to be suspicious. Christy estimated damage at $50,000 to $60,000 but he acknowledged that could rise.

Natalie Ross, executive director at Irene Stacy, arrived during the fire but she declined to comment.

The building’s alarm system alerted authorities of the fire, according to Ed Tassey, Irene Stacy’s director of maintenance.

The complex consists of three or four interconnected buildings. Atop each building is a mansard roof, similar to the recognizable red roofs on Pizza Hut restaurants.

Air handling units used as part of the facility’s heating system are contained in the roofs.

The smoke appeared to be confined to the roof at the far end of the building where administrative offices are based, Tassey said.

Firefighters from a number of departments began to converge and wasted little time taking action. An attack hose was quickly set up as was the Butler Township Volunteer Fire District’s ladder truck.

Once power saws cut the first ventilation hole through the roof, the extent of the fire was exposed.

“That’s when all the smoke started coming out,” Tassey said. “No flames, just all smoke.”

But as more holes were cut, flames started popping up. By 6:30 a.m., the fire stretched across the entire mansard roof.

Shortly after 7 a.m., the fire appeared to be contained.

“Those guys did a good job,” Christy said.

The fire damage was contained to the administrative wing.

The remainder of the facility sustained smoke damage and would likely be forced to remain closed for at least a day or two, Christy said.

Battling the blaze were 35 to 40 firefighters from South Butler, Mercer Road, the Butler Township Fire District, Penn Township, Herman, Lick Hill, Adams Area and Saxonburg.

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