Several businesses damaged after fire tears through Westmoreland County shopping center

Flames shot high into the sky early Tuesday morning, coming from the roof of the Latrobe 30 shopping plaza in Unity Township, Westmoreland County.


“It started in the canopy. First smoke and then ‘woosh,’ away it went,” described Ralph Scalise, who has managed the property for more than four decades.

He ran out the door as soon as he got the devastating news.

“Throw on the jeans, throw on the top, and get out the door,” he said. “It was a little more intense than I thought it would’ve been, than I was hoping it would’ve been,” he said about the damage.

According to Scalise, all eight storefronts in this section of the plaza — many local small businesses — have some sort of damage either from the flames, smoke, or water.

Roadman’s Country Living and My Fitness Kitchen have the largest cleanup ahead.

“It’s the people who are in these units that it’s really kind of sad. They worked their tails off to build nice businesses and now they’re going to have to restart. It won’t be next week. It’s going to take time,” Scalise said.

Throughout the day Tuesday, community members stopped by the see the destruction for themselves, many pausing in disbelief and taking photos or videos.

“It’s just sad for the community and for all the store owners. It’s been here forever, we’ve all shopped here, pleasant people, nice to come, it’s just sad,” said Rosemary Baird, who frequents the shopping center and knows some of the shop owners.

“This is our community, this is our town, this is our people,” Baird said. “Hopefully they’ll be able to recover.”

Scalise says that’s the goal, but he knows it’s going to be a long road to recovery.

“The only thing I pledged to them was we are going to work as hard as we can to get this done so that they can be back in business,” he said.

Scalise tells Channel 11 there’s currently no timetable for cleanup or rebuilding.

The State Police Fire Marshal is still investigating the cause of the fire, but Scalise says he believes it was caused by an electrical issue.

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