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NJ Couple Survives 4 Hours in Wreckage
Do You Remember When??
3 Philipsburg Businesses Destroyed by Fire
The Progress Newspaper Dateline: Monday, November 29, 1982
3 Philipsburg Businesses Destroyed by Fire
Fire Marshal Probes Cause; 5 Fireman Injured; Damage Estimate Not Given

Philipsburg – A state police fire marshal is investigating the cause of a blaze that rushed through Philipsburg’s Front Street at 6:14 am yesterday, resulting in injuries to five fireman and loss of three stores.

Store owners declined to give damage estimates until inventories are completed but the total estimate is likely to be hundreds of thousands of dollars.

State police Cpl. Ray Siatkowski of Hollidaysburg, who will be back on the fire scene today, said it will be several days before he can determine the cause of the fire, the second this year to hit Philipsburg’s business district. The first destroyed the Kephart hardware store over six months ago.

Firemen from the Philipsburg Fire Department’s Hope Fire Co. remained on the scene last night to extinguish periodic flare-ups. Paul Benes, the company’s Chief Engineer, said he had a four man crew on duty.

Mr. Benes said the fire alarm came in at 6:14 am from a lady who thought smoke was coming from Second street to the rear of Front Street.

Fireman injured in Sunday’s fire, who were treated at Philipsburg State General Hospital, included from Clearfield, Samual Toto, who received a back injury and was transferred by the Philipsburg Emergency Medical Service to Clearfield Hospital, where he is reported in fair condition today, and Rick Haney, who was treated for cold exposure; from Philipsburg, Mark Buck, treated for smoke inhalation, and David Deliman, cold exposure and smoke inhalation, and William Jarrett of Osceola Mills, cold exposure.

 Philipsburg and Clearfield Fire Departments and Morris Township, Chester Hill, Osceola Mills Columbia, Sandy Ridge Mountaintop, B-J-W and Tyrone fire companies fought the blaze, which gutted two connecting buildings: Ziff’s Men’s Shop and Sam’s Furniture Sleep Shop, at 212 and 214 Front Street and did extensive water and smoke damage to a third, Ziff’s Ladies Shop at 220 Front Street. Miinor smoke damage was also reported at McCrory’s Five and 10-Cent Store, which is connected to Ziff’s Men’s Shop.

Earl Bollinger, manager of McCrory’s, said late yesterday afternoon that water was leaking through the ceiling of the store but today he said the store will be open for business as usual.

Water from fire hoses and freezing rain was running through what was left of Sam’s four floor furniture store and saturated the wall-to-wall carpeting in Ziff’s Ladies Shop as firemen fought the blaze. It also ran down debris strewn Front Street, freezing along the way to make the street a stream of ice.

June Finberg, owner of Sam’s Furniture Store, said she is not sure of the amount of loss but said beds, bedding, hide-a-beds, cedar chests and baby beds were lost, as was Sam’s furniture stored in the basement of one of the Ziff’s stores.

"The way the wind was blowing, it looked like the whole block would go,” she said as she looked out the window of Sam’s main store, across from the skeleton of the destroyed structure.

 “Our stores are a total loss,” Saul Ziff, operator of the men’s store, said, adding that the stores had double their usual inventory because of the coming Christmas holiday.

 “We received the maximum damage without a lot of fire in the ladies store,” he said, referring to the smoke and water that soaked the interior and the contents not removed by firemen and others as the fire spread from Sam’s to the ladies shop. He said the Ziff family has operated stores in Philipsburg since 1914.

Mr. Ziff’s brother Sidney, who operated the ladies shop, said he did not know if either shop will reopen.

 The Ziff’s stores and Sam’s did have insurance coverage but it is not known if all the contents were covered.

 Philipsburg Fire Chief Robert Smith said he thinks the fire started in the rear of Ziff’s Men Shop, engulfed with flames that rushed into the bedding store on its left and towards the sides of McCrory’s on its right until firemen contained its progress.

The fire had entered the furniture store and was rushing through the roof when Clearfield Fire Company No. 1 arrived on the scene with its ladder truck.

Clearfield County Control said the company got a call for help at 6:30 am and was on the scene in Philipsburg at 6:50.

The aerial ladder operation gushed water down onto the flames, pushing them back as firemen on the ground continued to aim hoses into the blazing store. The Tyrone Company rushed through town shortly after, “taking the shingles off my house in its haste,” Philipsburg Public Works Director Don Enck said. The ladder truck was stationed to the rear of the burning buildings.

Commenting on the fire and the Philipsburg Fire Department’s lack of a ladder truck, former Philipsburg Borough Councilman Donald Swires Jr. said “This is the second time in a few months that Clearfield’s ladder truck has helped us, the other time with Kephart’s Hardware Store.”

Mr. Swires and the firemen on the scene said they think its time Philipsburg has a ladder truck.

Jack Settelen, manager of Keystone Water Company, said customers had turbidity in their water early yesterday and low water pressure, with some customers reporting loss of water because of the tremendous pull of fire hoses drawing water.

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