A quick response and the collaboration of nine different emergency companies minimized the damage to a longstanding social club in Connellsville Township early Tuesday morning.

Rob Leiberger, chief of the Connellsville Township Volunteer Fire Department, said the call came in at 5:54 a.m. for smoke in the Sons and Daughters of Italy Lodge No. 454, 515 Rogers Ave., Connellsville Township.

"The burglar alarm was actually the first thing to go off, and then the call came in for a possible structure fire," he said.

The fire department is just across the street from the club and the vice president of the club, Tim Sines, lives just beyond the fire department.

"I got a call from ADT (the security company) that the burglar alarm had gone off and then the tenant (there is an apartment within the facility) came running over and said the basement was full of smoke," said Sines.

The tenant, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he was already awake and watching television on and off when he smelled a little bit of smoke.

"I turned on my ceiling fan, but the smoke seemed to be getting worse, so I opened the door and the basement was just full of smoke," he said. "That's when I ran out and over to get Tim."

Sines said after the tenant pounded on his door and explained the situation, he immediately called 911.

"The fire and most of the damage was contained to the basement where there's a downstairs bar, which is mostly used by people who rent it for parties or events," Leiberger said. "There is really heavy damage to the basement and there's a lot of smoke damage upstairs.

"We had a nice quick response by the first couple of companies and got a quick knock down," he said. "We had to overhaul the basement and open it up in there to knock the fire down quick."

Sines said if he had his way, the upstairs main bar area would be open by 3 p.m. that same day, but Leiberger said they had to cut the power, so going through the insurance company, the power company and everything else, the clean up and restoration process might take longer than Sines would like.

"I'll be calling to get them in here as soon as possible to start getting the place cleaned up," Sines said.

The tenant said he didn't lose anything and that the only damage to his property was smoke damage.

"For now, I'll stay with some friends and family, but I'll have to wash a lot of my clothes and stuff," he said.

Leiberger said the Pennsylvania State Police fire marshal will be investigating the cause of the fire.

Along with Connellsville Township, other emergency services responding to the fire included Dunbar Township, New Haven Hose, South Connellsville, Scottdale, Everson and Bullskin fire departments along with Fayette EMS and EMS Rehabilitation.

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