Fire on West Main St. Monongahela PA

Fire on West Main St. Monongahela PA looking southwest
Fire on West Main St. Monongahela PA looking southwest

This fire started at 222 West Main Street, Monongahela Pa. (where Voccelli’s Pizza is located) around 5 a.m Sept. 6, 2009. The fire spread to an adjoining building occupied by Hufnagel Computers. The building occupied by “The Bees Nest” sustained heavy damage when weight from water used to combat the fire caused the roof to collapse. I spoke to a man who lived on the second floor of 222 W. Main and he said that he heard two explosions before the fire started. Two firefighters were also injured in the blaze.

The building at 222 W. Main was one of my favorite buildings in this old part of town although it has been in poor condition for some time. Click here to see my other pictures of the fire.

Fire at Voccelli's Pizza Looking southeast, Main St. Monongahela PA
Fire at Voccelli's Pizza Looking southeast, Main St. Monongahela PA
Fire on West Main St. Monongahela PA
Fire on West Main St. Monongahela PA
Elliot (on right) takes a break. His dad was one of the people displaced by the fire.
Elliot (on right) takes a break. His dad was one of the people displaced by the fire.
Looking north down 3rd St. Monongahela PA
Looking north down Jackson St. Monongahela PA
Crowd watching between Hitch's Hut and 1st Federal, Main St. Monongahela PA
Crowd watching between Hitch's Hut and 1st Federal, Main St. Monongahela PA

Rear view of two buildings damaged by the fire taken from Chess St. looking north.
Rear view of two buildings damaged by the fire taken from Chess St. looking north.

The best online article I’ve found about the fire so far is by the Pittsburgh Tribune Review click here to read more.

I have other pictures taken later in the afternoon. Will post them here later tonight or tomorrow.

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32 thoughts on “Fire on West Main St. Monongahela PA

  1. Jimmy Braum September 6, 2009 / 1:37 pm

    Oh my god. That is another building gone. any word on the cause…I heard it may have been a gas leak

    Like

  2. Jimmy Braum September 6, 2009 / 1:38 pm

    man that close for the Historical society…if it had been The bees knees cafe…that is just scary to think about.

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  3. Luke Rice September 6, 2009 / 1:44 pm

    I don’t know if you remember this, but Vocelli was actually closed down for the better part of a month or more either last year or the year before due to gas problems, so my first thought here is gas leak, actually the only thing that I could think of that would create an audible explosion with fire.

    I just came through about 2:00 and Main St and Chess St. are STILL closed, although Railroad St. is open to traffic to get around it.

    What a mess. I hope the New Eagle fireman who was injured is ok, and I hope those displaced from their homes have somewhere to go.

    Like

  4. Lorie Thomas September 6, 2009 / 1:51 pm

    Very Sad. My prayers go out to the Firefights and the displaced people and also the business owners affected.

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  5. Dan September 6, 2009 / 2:02 pm

    I think a local church is setting up a relief fund for the people who lived there. I’ll post more here once I get more information.

    It’s a rotten shame we lost those two buildings. The smaller one on the left was a building with a nice mansard roof and dormers. The larger building was one of my favorites in town. I always admired how the ornimentation was done with brick rather than stone or wood decoration tacked on. Check out the brickwork around the arches in the photos.

    And thanks for commenting. I’m always surprised anybody reads this blog!

    Like

  6. Dan September 6, 2009 / 2:43 pm

    Just a note that I’ve updated this post with a few more pictures from the Flickr account.

    Like

  7. Jim Kelly September 6, 2009 / 3:06 pm

    This is going to be the biggest story in town for the next decade.

    Like

  8. Dan September 6, 2009 / 6:20 pm

    Luke, good hearing from you. I added a link to your website on Lost Monongahela.

    Like

  9. Jimmy Braum September 6, 2009 / 7:03 pm

    How bad was Hufnagel damaged?

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  10. Dan September 6, 2009 / 7:15 pm

    Pretty bad, I heard they might not be able to re-open.

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  11. Luke Rice September 6, 2009 / 7:29 pm

    I just got back from a walk down there, main st is STILL closed, although Chess is open through now. Hufnagel looks to have sustained extensive damage to the 3rd floor, doesn’t look as bad on the lower floors, but this is just looking around at dusk from the outside. Around back, the building Vocelli was in is a total loss I’d say, the roof is falling in in the back. Still smoldering at this hour as well, still fireman at the scene.

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  12. Randy September 6, 2009 / 8:03 pm

    Looks like the old Woolworth building. Lots of neat architecture, hope it can be saved. Wonder if there was a problem with the repaired natural gas line alluded to in the Tribune article?

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  13. Dan September 6, 2009 / 8:07 pm

    Randy – I think the taller building will be torn down. In other areas they would try to save the facade but I don’t think there is any chance of that here.

    Have you heard anything more about the truck?

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  14. Judy Lomago Gray September 7, 2009 / 9:41 am

    Hi Dan ~ I sure do appreciate that you keep those of us who have moved away from the area updated ~ It’s such a sad story but we’d have never learned nearly as much from just reading the newspaper articles. Thanks again!!

    Like

  15. Luke Rice September 7, 2009 / 12:35 pm

    High level sources at the beer distributor say that they are going to be tearing that building down ASAP, possibly today. At least the one that housed Vocelli, not sure if either of the other buildings are salvagable.

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  16. Dan September 7, 2009 / 12:50 pm

    Luke, yesterday the city contacted a company that can handle the demolition. I know one of the laborers (he actually was inside the Vocelli Building to see the damage). According to him, the owner of the demolition company believes there is no danger of the front of the building collapsing on to Main St. If we were in a more archetectually sensitive area the facade would be saved. I don’t see that happening here though. I would be willing to bet that the building was not insured for replacement value. Most owners around here only insure for market value which would be no where near enough to replace the building to what it was.

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  17. Dan September 7, 2009 / 1:07 pm

    Hi Judy, nice to hear from a Facebook friend! I think most people who moved away enjoy hearing a little about what’s new in Mon City. It’s a fun hobby for me to document the changes as they happen to Monongahela over the years. The town is losing some of it’s character as we lose more of the tall buildings but it is good in other ways. People who come back to visit notice how the new lower buildings have opened up a fantastic view of River Hill – especially around Sheetz and McDonalds. We now have a much better view of River Hill which is just beautiful in the spring when the Dogwoods are in bloom, summer with all the green leaves and fall with all the color. (Winter sucks but you can’t have everything)

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  18. Jimmy Braum September 7, 2009 / 4:10 pm

    any idea if they will try to save the front? Or will they tear it down, and make two more lots in Monongahela…..I hate the empty lots.

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  19. Luke Rice September 8, 2009 / 9:40 am

    According to what my girlfriend saw, they are moving a crane in now, probably for demolition efforts. She overhead people saying they are tearing down all 3 buildings and that there was concern that the building on the other side of the computer shop may be unsafe. This is all heresay, however.

    Like

  20. Dan September 8, 2009 / 9:43 am

    Thanks for the heads-up Luke. I’m off work today, I’ll try to get up there for some pics.

    Like

  21. Jimmy Braum September 8, 2009 / 2:21 pm

    as of 2:42PM on September 8th 2009…All three still stand.

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  22. resident September 8, 2009 / 4:06 pm

    The Vocelli Building and the Bees Nest building are coming down tomorrow after the insurance companies see what they need to see. The computer store may need to come down as well if the Vocelli building is supporting the joining wall. No one knows what happened yet but there are rumors of a gas explosion, arson, and a meth lab exploding in the apartments above

    Like

  23. Nancy Lokes September 8, 2009 / 7:34 pm

    Dan, thanks for the news from home…sorry this news was so devastating.

    Like

  24. Nancy Lokes September 8, 2009 / 7:35 pm

    Dan, thanks for the news…sorry this was so devastating!

    Like

  25. Dan September 8, 2009 / 7:42 pm

    Yeah, it’s sad with the losses to the business owners, residents and the ladder truck aerial collapse.

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  26. Mike September 9, 2009 / 8:40 pm

    I remember Vocelli (Pizza Outlet) use to house SUN Carpet and the Bees Nest was a clothing store (don’t remember what it was). Huffnagle computers use to be The News Room or something?

    Like

  27. dan September 10, 2009 / 2:37 am

    I think The Bees knees Knees was a shoe store at one time. The computer store was an office supply store and at one time Frendly Bakery was located there. For many years Workingmans clothing store was located where Vocelli’s was..

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  28. Marybeth Pileggi Pyles September 12, 2009 / 12:32 pm

    My father Patsy Pileggi was the manager of the shoe store until his death in June of 1965. I have wonderful memories of times spent with him in that building when I stopped after school to visit with him on my way home from St. Anthony’s. The store was called Endicott Johnson’s.

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  29. Dan September 13, 2009 / 8:22 pm

    Thanks for commenting Marybeth. Let me know if you ever come across any old pictures of that building, or any other in Monongahela for that matter. It would be fun to post it on the website.

    Like

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