H-burg’s response impressive
Hollidaysburg’s response since last month’s blaze that destroyed four buildings in the 100 block of Allegheny Street has reinvigorated the borough’s sense of determination in the wake of adversity.
Some communities victimized by such a disastrous fire still would be hard-pressed trying to mobilize all of the needed resources to overcome the immediate effects of it.
Unlike what’s happening in Blair’s county seat community, they would not yet be poised to look beyond the initial response.
Not only did cleanup work in Hollidaysburg begin quickly, but it became quickly evident that there is a desire to return the fire scene to an architectural character that doesn’t clash with other buildings on the street.
To its credit, Hollidaysburg already had an Historic and Architectural Review Board and Historic Preservation Commission in place at the time when the fire struck.
Both are ready to provide planning assistance as needed to Lacey Cunningham, the owner of the destroyed structures, whom borough manager Mark Schroyer has commended for reacting quickly on behalf of ridding the borough of the fire-ravaged structures.
The fire scene is part of the 10-block Hollidaysburg historic district that is important to Hollidaysburg’s overall image.
Being determined not to allow the fire to be a long-term setback exposes the ingrained class and flexibility about which Hollidaysburg can boast.
Fortunately for the borough, those attributes are not confined to municipal leadership. It is ingrained in the town’s people, as evidenced by many of their comments in the vicinity of the fire scene during the days following the blaze.
It was a time for many residents to reflect not only on what had been, but also on what might lie ahead.
While it doesn’t appear there will be permanent scars, the fire might someday be credited for saving lives. It is causing the community to rethink not having an operable fire whistle like existed years ago.
Buster Brunner, owner of Buster’s Six Pack Shoppe, which survived the blaze, alluded to that in his comments reported in the March 2 Mirror. Brunner, who went to a building next to his to alert people about the fire, said the whistle needs to be brought back to let people know when there’s trouble.
He was right in observing that the February blaze could have been much more tragic if it had occurred at night. The fire might have gotten a much bigger head start before being noticed, and it might have claimed lives of sleeping residents.
With the goal of avoiding tragedy, especially at night, Councilman Joseph Dodson on March 13 proposed replacing or repairing the old fire whistle. If the borough doesn’t have the money to do that, the community should launch a fundraising campaign.
Fortunately there were no fatalities last month; 10 residents of apartments in the affected buildings were left homeless.
Hollidaysburg has plenty of work ahead to eliminate the scars of what occurred last month. Fortunately, it seems well on its way to doing that.
Nothing must get in the way of completing that mission.