Broad Ford in the News
Written & Edited by Karen Rose Overholt Critchfield, January 5, 2005

 

Broad Ford News 2004
Researching Published Newspaper Articles
From December 18, 2004 back to October 16, 2004
~~ Updated December 28, 2004 ~~


Police arrest three for arson at Overholt Distillery

By Rachel R. Basinger, DAILY COURIER, Saturday, December 18, 2004

Pennsylvania State Police at Uniontown have made three arrests in connection with the fire on Oct. 15 at the Overholt Distillery off Broadford Road in Connellsville Township.

Charges of arson and related offenses were filed on Friday and warrants were issued for Cade Stevens, 20, of Dawson, and Charles Fuller, 18, of Dawson. Charges were also filed against a 17-year-old juvenile, from Perryopolis, through the Fayette County Juvenile Probation on Thursday.

These suspects are not believed to be connected to any other arson in the Connellsville area at this time. According to state police, on Oct. 14 the three trespassed onto the property where the Overholt Distillery building is located and stayed in one of the buildings overnight.

Police said they did not have permission from Pechin Leasing to be on the property when they started a fire in the building that got out of control and caused approximately $15,000 in damage. The three then left the area without notifying anyone of the fire.

Firefighters from seven area departments battled the stubborn blaze, which crept through narrow crawl spaces under the floor of the abandoned building. Hidden flames and thick white smoke engulfed the 100,000-square-foot brick structure that once housed the distillery's cafeteria.

At the time, the fire was ruled suspicious and a probable arson because of its remote location. It was void of utilities and secured by fencing, according to Dwayne Krumanacker, chief of the Connellsville Township Volunteer Fire Department.

Emergency workers stretched 5-inch hose almost 2,000 feet from a Broadford Road hydrant into the thickly overgrown industrial ruins. However, the primary obstacle was the maze of pipes underneath the collapsing floorboards.

With hoses stretched over the train tracks, a long CSX locomotive hauling dumper cars sat idle just a few feet from the scene. Traffic was restricted to one lane on Broadford Road near Hodge Transmissions for several hours.

The fire broke out shortly after 9 a.m., and chain saws hummed inside the burning building for two hours before fire officials ordered personnel to clear the area because of unsafe conditions. The crawl space was then flooded.

More than 50 firefighters from Connellsville Township, New Haven Hose, South Connellsville, Scottdale, Everson, Bullskin Township and Morrell worked at the scene. The manpower was necessary to rotate the frontline, according to Krumanacker, while several crews delivered water, oxygen and gasoline.

Paramedics from Mutual Aid Ambulance Service remained on stand-by.

Krumanacker said he remembered extinguishing a fire on the property 10 years ago that claimed a warehouse originally used to store whiskey barrels.

Rachel R. Basinger can be reached at rbasinger@tribweb.com or (724) 626-3536.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/search/s_284719.htm


2 men, teen face charges in fire at old distillery

Tribune Review, Saturday, December 18, 2004

Two men from Dawson and a 17-year-old from Perryopolis are accused of setting a fire at the abandoned Overholt Distillery near Connellsville in October.

Cade Stevens, 20, and Charles Fuller, 18, both of Dawson, were charged on Friday by state police at Uniontown with arson and related offenses. Arrest warrants were issued for the pair.

The juvenile was charged Thursday through Fayette County Juvenile Probation.

Trooper Thomas Maher stated the suspects started a fire Oct. 14 in a building that once housed the cafeteria at the former Overholt Distillery off Broadford Road in Connellsville Township. The fire could not be controlled, and the suspects left the scene without contacting anyone. The fire caused approximately $15,000 in damage.

Maher said the suspects stayed overnight in one of the buildings at the distillery. They did not have permission from the owner, Pechin Leasing Inc. of Dunbar, to be on the property.

A fire at the site about 10 years ago destroyed a warehouse originally used to store whiskey barrels.

State police said they do not believe the three suspects are connected to any of the numerous arsons in the Connellsville area.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/search/s_284744.html


Three charged in Connellsville fire

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Saturday, December 18, 2004

Three people have been charged in connection with a fire that caused $15,000 in damage at the Overholt Distillery in Connellsville on Oct. 14, state police said.

Cade Stevens, 20, and Charles Fuller, 18, both of Dawson, were arrested yesterday, and a 17-year-old from Perryopolis was arrested earlier in the week. His name was not released. They face arson and related charges.

Police said the three men stayed overnight in a building at the distillery without the permission of the landlord and started a fire that got out of control.

Police do not believe that the men are connected to any of the other suspicious fires in Connellsville over the last two years.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/04353/429012.stm


Zoning issue discussed

By Rachel R. Basinger, Daily Courier, Thursday, December 16, 2004

What started out as a dispute concerning 16 unlicensed cars parked around Pechin Shopping Village in Dunbar ended with officials uncovering the fact that the shopping center, which sits in a residentially-zoned area, had never been recognized by the Fayette County Zoning Board as a non-conforming use.

The issue was brought before the board members during a zoning hearing on Wednesday and was accepted as a non-conforming use after testimony verified that the shopping center had been in continual operation prior to 1968.

Charles Gentile, attorney for Sullivan D'Amico who is the owner of Pechin Shopping Village, had Thomas Good, a past public accountant for the shopping center for 42 years, testify to the continual operation of the business.

"I went down twice a week and it was in continuous use from 1942 until the time I retired," said Good, adding that it had never closed for any time period.

Fred Lebder, a Salerno cookie distributor from Uniontown, also testified that he began distributing cookies to the shopping center in 1955 and continued to do so until 2000.

The board said that the acceptance of the request was contingent upon it receiving a copy of the deed for the property.

In the matter of the unlicensed cars, Gentile said that the business is currently in the process of having them moved. The vehicles will all be removed within 10 days.

Rachel R. Basinger can be reached at rbasinger@tribweb.com or (724) 626-3536.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/search/s_284115.html


Old Overholt Distillery burns: Seven fire companies respond

By Michael Cope, Daily Courier, Friday, October 15, 2004

Firefighters from seven area departments battled a stubborn blaze Thursday that crept through narrow crawl spaces under the floor of an abandoned building at the old Overholt Distillery in Broadford, Connellsville Township.

Hidden flames and thick white smoke engulfed the 100,000 square foot brick structure that once housed the distillery's cafeteria. The fire was ruled suspicious and a probable arson at the scene because the remote location is void of utilities and secured by fencing, according to Dwayne Krumanacker, chief of Connellsville Township Volunteer Fire Department.

Krumanacker added that the fire appeared to originate in the center floor of a 200-by-500-foot building.

Emergency workers stretched 5-inch hose almost 2,000 feet from a Broadford Road hydrant into the thickly overgrown industrial ruins. However, the primary obstacle was the maze of pipes underneath the collapsing floorboards.

"We actually cut through the floor, but all of the piping made the fire difficult to reach," Krumanacker said. "We were chasing it for quite a while."

With hose stretched over the train tracks, a long CSX locomotive hauling dumper cars sat idle just a few feet from the scene. Traffic was restricted to one lane on Broadford Road near Hodge Transmissions for several hours.

The fire broke out shortly after 9 a.m., and chain saws hummed inside the burning building for two hours before fire officials ordered personnel to clear the area because of unsafe conditions. The crawl space was then flooded.

"The fire is under control at this point," Krumanacker said, "It's just a matter of getting it completely extinguished."

More than 50 firefighters from Connellsville Township, New Haven Hose, South Connellsville, Scottdale, Everson, Bullskin Township and Morrell worked at the scene. The manpower was necessary to rotate the frontline, according to Krumanacker, while several crews delivered water, oxygen and gasoline. Paramedics from Mutual Aid Ambulance Service remained on stand-by.

Krumanacker said he remembered extinguishing a fire on the property 10 years ago that claimed a warehouse originally used to store whiskey barrels. The area is owned by Pechin Leasing Inc. of Dunbar.

Reporting to the Connellsville Township supervisors at a regular meeting Thursday, Krumanacker said he will meet with Pechin owner Sully D'Amico and code enforcement officer Todd Brothers about improving the unsafe conditions in the structure.

Jim Brownfield, state police fire marshal, is investigating the scene. He called the fire incendiary in nature. Damage was estimated at approximately $20,000.

Michael Cope can be reached at mcope@tribweb.com or 724-626-3537.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/dailycourier/news/s_262206.html


Blaze at former distillery proves stubborn

By Michael Cope, Tribune-Review News Service, Friday, October 15, 2004

Firefighters from seven area departments battled a stubborn blaze Thursday that crept through narrow crawl spaces under the floor of an abandoned building at the old Overholt Distillery in Broadford, Connellsville Township.

Hidden flames and thick white smoke engulfed the 100,000 square foot brick structure that once housed the distillery's cafeteria. The fire was ruled suspicious and a probable arson at the scene because the remote location is void of utilities and secured by fencing, according to Dwayne Krumanacker, chief of Connellsville Township Volunteer Fire Department.

Krumanacker added that the fire appeared to originate in the center floor of a 200-by-500-foot building.

Emergency workers stretched 5-inch hose almost 2,000 feet from a Broadford Road hydrant into the thickly overgrown industrial ruins. However, the primary obstacle was the maze of pipes underneath the collapsing floorboards.

"We actually cut through the floor, but all of the piping made the fire difficult to reach," Krumanacker said. "We were chasing it for quite a while."

With hose stretched over the train tracks, a long CSX locomotive hauling dumper cars sat idle just a few feet from the scene. Traffic was restricted to one lane on Broadford Road near Hodge Transmissions for several hours.

The fire broke out shortly after 9 a.m., and chain saws hummed inside the burning building for two hours before fire officials ordered personnel to clear the area because of unsafe conditions. The crawl space was then flooded.

"The fire is under control at this point," Krumanacker said, "It's just a matter of getting it completely extinguished."

More than 50 firefighters from Connellsville Township, New Haven Hose, South Connellsville, Scottdale, Everson, Bullskin Township and Morrell worked at the scene. The manpower was necessary to rotate the frontline, according to Krumanacker, while several crews delivered water, oxygen and gasoline. Paramedics from Mutual Aid Ambulance Service remained on stand-by.

Krumanacker said he remembered extinguishing a fire on the property 10 years ago that claimed a warehouse originally used to store whiskey barrels. The area is owned by Pechin Leasing Inc. of Dunbar.

Reporting to the Connellsville Township supervisors at a regular meeting Thursday, Krumanacker said he will meet with Pechin owner Sully D'Amico and code enforcement officer Todd Brothers about improving the unsafe conditions in the structure.

Jim Brownfield, state police fire marshal, is investigating the scene. He called the fire incendiary in nature. Damage was estimated at approximately $20,000.

Michael Cope can be reached at mcope@tribweb.com or 724-626-3537.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/search/s_262134.html


Distillery fire suspicious, officials say

By Paul Paterra, Tribune-Review, Saturday, October 16, 2004

It appears a fire at the long-abandoned Overholt Distillery in Upper Tyrone Township may have been set.

According to a news release from state police at Uniontown, the blaze was incendiary in nature. The fire broke out about 9 a.m. Thursday in a building that once housed the distillery's cafeteria.

Trooper James F. Brownfield, a state police fire marshal, is investigating the fire. Damage was estimated at $20,000.

More than 50 firefighters from seven departments battled the blaze Thursday at the building along Broadford Road. State police said the building is owned by Pechin Leasing Inc., of Dunbar.

A fire official on Thursday called the blaze suspicious because the building, which is in a remote location, has no utilities.

The distillery was last owned by a Pittsburgh-based construction business, which used the facility to store material.

At the scene, Connellsville Township fire Chief Dwayne Krumanacker recalled extinguishing a fire at the property 10 years ago that destroyed a warehouse originally used to store whiskey barrels.

A fire in 1905 at the Overholt Distillery resulted in a loss of more than $4 million in whiskey.

Connellsville Township firefighters were joined at the scene by those from New Haven, South Connellsville, Scottdale, Everson, Bullskin Township and Morrell.

Paul Paterra can be reached at ppaterra@tribweb.com or (724) 836-6220.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/search/s_262515.html

 

END OF PAGE -- Return to the first page of Karen's Branches.