The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

February 21, 2009

Fire destroys Sunbury's Peppermint Lounge

Owner's new fire insurance policy took effect Friday

SUNBURY — More than 100 firefighters used in excess of 1 million gallons of water in battling a two-alarm blaze late Friday afternoon that destroyed a Market Street business.

Firefighters from 10 Valley companies fought the blaze that left The Peppermint Ristorante & Music Club, 700 Market St., in ruins and caused air quality concerns at a high rise for senior citizens across the street.

“It’s gone, baby,” Robert Snyder said of the business he has owned for 17 years, adding that his former fire insurance policy had expired Thursday. His new policy took effect Friday.



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Snyder and four employees were setting up speakers downstairs around 4:30 p.m. in preparation for three bands’ performances Friday night when they saw smoke.

Snyder asked whether the smoke machine had been turned on.

His employees said no and grabbed fire extinguishers. Snyder headed for the second floor, opened a door and was overcome by smoke and flames.

“When I went upstairs, the smoke was like a thick fog,” he said. “And then there were flames, all of a sudden. I don’t know how it started. I can’t believe how fast it started, how quickly it spread.”

Snyder’s first concern was to “make sure everyone was safe, our neighbors.”

His hair singed, he dialed 911 and ran out of the building.

But Sunbury Fire Chief Chad Betz, who was driving down Market Street, had already called in the blaze after noticing smoke around 4:45 p.m.

“At first I didn’t think it would be this serious,” Betz said later Friday.

Workers from the Central Keystone Federal Credit Union, a block away, also called 911.

“We saw it when it all started,” said credit union employee Nicole Blank, of Sunbury. “We weren’t sure what it was ... just a lot of smoke, and then it began to billow out of the roof. There was smoke everywhere. Too much smoke. I was outside, and I couldn’t breathe.”

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