Catasauqua Press

Tuesday, June 18, 2019
press photos by paul cmilVolunteer firefighters and public works department crew members work to cool down hot spots and clean up debris following a fire that destroyed two Front Street buildings Feb. 27. See Page A5 for additional news about the fire. press photos by paul cmilVolunteer firefighters and public works department crew members work to cool down hot spots and clean up debris following a fire that destroyed two Front Street buildings Feb. 27. See Page A5 for additional news about the fire.
The two damaged buildings are seen here the morning of the fire, at the corner of Front and Willow streets. The two damaged buildings are seen here the morning of the fire, at the corner of Front and Willow streets.

Fire destroys two buildings on Front Street

Thursday, March 10, 2016 by paul cmil Special to The Press in Local News

A fire that broke out on Front Street Feb. 27 destroyed two apartment buildings.

“We responded to the alarm at 3:16 a.m.,” Deputy Fire Chief Brian Williams told The Press that morning. “We escalated it to a three-alarm.”

There were no injuries.

“Most of the apartments were vacant, so that helped us,” Williams said.

He and Catasauqua Mayor Barbara Schlegel were discussing the situation while on the street near the site.

The apartments, at 225 and 223 Front St., at the corner of Willow Street, had been in some level of disrepair. Neighbors had complained of cockroach infestations.

“It looks as if the buildings will need to be razed,” Schlegel said. She made herself available to sign the demolition order. The borough engineer was scheduled on site Saturday afternoon.

Public works employees were on the scene removing debris from the rear of the damaged buildings. “We have them here, so we can get to the last of the hot spots,” Williams said.

The fire was under control by 8 a.m. when Schlegel made her inspection.

“The mutual aid agreement we have with surrounding communities really helps us out when we have a major fire like this,” she told The Press. Responding fire companies included Whitehall, Hanover, Northampton, Han-Le-Co, Greenawalds and Alburtis.

Williams said he had evacuated residents three doors away.

“We have surface and water damage on the property next to the fire, but we were able to save the building,” he said.

Exterior damage to the vinyl siding on the adjacent was extensive. Schlegel said he had feared the whole row of the building was in danger, given the intensity of the flames.

Ladder trucks from Catasauqua and Whitehall sprayed water from above the three-story buildings. “Access to the fire in the back of the buildings was difficult along the side streets,” he said. “We were able to position the ladder trucks in a paved lot across the street.”

Residents evacuated from the fire were offered shelter at the borough municipal building.

The fire marshal was on the scene Saturday, gathering information.

Catasauqua Borough Council President Vincent Smith told The Press 225 Front St. was a two-unit residential apartment and 223 Front St. was the site of the former Little Brown Jug bar and rooming house.

“The bar was bought out by Jack’s Pizza around 2000,” he said. Jack put the property up for sale a few years later, selling the liquor license off in the process.

“A realtor, Tony Botros, bought it and resumed the rooming house use for the second floor and the apartment use for the third floor, but never opened up the first floor retail use.”

A few years ago, a small convenience store opened in the first-floor space, he said.