AlliedNews.com - Grove City, Pennsylvania

January 11, 2013

Marshal: Fire damage too extensive to determine cause

By Monica Pryts/Staff Writer
Allied News

GROVE CITY — The damage from the weekend blaze that destroyed part of Grove City's Gear Custom Products was so extensive that the cause has been ruled undetermined.

"It was pretty quick to determine we'll never be able to figure out what caused that fire," Trooper Luke Nelson, state fire marshal out of the Pennsylvania State Butler barracks, said Thursday.

Nelson on Monday investigated the screen-printing business at 110 Third St., which went up in flames the night of Dec. 22.

An unnamed resident who lives nearby was out walking their dog when he or she smelled something burning, followed the scent until seeing smoke and flames coming from the back of the Gear Custom building and called 911, he said.

"To the ground it's gone," Nelson said of the rubble and caved-in roof that remains. "There's nothing to work with."

The structure that burned included three connected buildings that housed materials like banners, signs and T-shirts and screen-printing equipment.

The fire likely started somewhere in the middle of that space, but the building is a "complete loss," Nelson said, adding there were no known problems with the equipment.

Everything had been working fine on Dec. 21, when the last employee left Gear Custom for the weekend. No one was inside the building when the fire began.

No one was hurt in the four-alarm fire that at least 13 departments battled, and Nelson said there was no evidence of suspicious activity like a break-in or arson.

There was insurance on the property, which also includes a separate office building for Gear Custom staff --- they declined comment Monday morning.

The business is owned by John Ayers, who is vacationing in Florida. He has said he plans to rebuild.

A damage estimate wasn't immediately available.

Published Dec. 29, 2012, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.