Fire claims J&O warehouse

DUNCANSVILLE – An early morning fire Tuesday destroyed the J&O Fireplaces warehouse, but owner Joe Panaro said he wants customers to know the retail location was untouched and is open for business.

The Old Route 220 warehouse is located about one mile away from the Old Route 22 retail store, Panaro said, so some customers may think the fire affected the store.

According to its website, J&O Fireplaces, which opened in 1976 and bills itself as central Pennsylvania’s largest distributor of stoves and fireplaces, stores hundreds of units and other fireplace accessories, including custom mantels, in its warehouse.

The fire started about 4 a.m., Panaro said, possibly caused by a short-circuit in one of his vintage trucks. It destroyed two trucks, two forklifts, a Bobcat vehicle and more than $200,000 worth of inventory.

“Everything’s a total loss,” he said.

Panaro said firefighters with Allegheny Township and Hollidaysburg did a “phenomenal job” containing the fire, but smoke and water continued through the building toward a new GMC truck as well as a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro and 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle he keeps at the warehouse.

“The cars were covered,” he said, so he believes the water may have helped insulate them from fire damage.

“I drove them right out while they were still shooting water on the fire,” he said, but the GMC truck was a loss, as well.

Panaro said insurance will cover costs to replace and rebuild but said it will be a long process to restore the building to what it was.

“I had just bought this property two years ago,” he said.

Representatives for Allegheny Township’s fire company could not be reached for comment.