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Fire damages Steelton bar, apartments

firephoto1 21 15Press and Journal photo by Dan Miller -- The Jazz on Front bar and apartments dates back to the 1800s, when it opened as an inn for travelers on horseback or in carriages, according to Steelton Mayor Tom Acri.


A mattress set ablaze by a 7-year-old child caused a fire that shuttered a downtown Steelton bar and left nine residents homeless on Monday, Jan. 19, according to the building’s owner.


The building at North Front and Conestoga streets was home to Jazz on Front. The three-story building had four three-bedroom apartments in the upper floors, said Rick Kaylor, the owner.


The bar owner and residents of the apartments were in the building when the fire started shortly after 1 p.m., said Steelton Mayor Tom Acri. Everyone got out safely and there were no injuries.


The American Red Cross is helping the residents.


The fire started in a third floor apartment. The roof collapsed, and there is extensive water damage to the bar and the two lower floors, Acri said. Companies from many surrounding communities joined Steelton firefighters and brought the blaze under control by about 2:30 p.m.


“The support was great,” Acri added.


The cause of the fire is being investigated by Steelton Fire Chief Steve Brubaker and the Pennsylvania State Police fire marshal, the mayor said.


However, Kaylor said the fire marshal has confirmed to him that the fire was caused by a child who was visiting tenants in the building.


Acri estimated the damage at $300,000.


Kaylor said on Tuesday, Jan. 20 that he didn’t know yet if he will rebuild. He was about to meet with an insurance agent to weigh his options.


“It is what it is. You get dealt things in life and you have to deal with them,” he said.


The building dates back to the 1800s, when it first opened as a carriage house. People rode their horses there, went inside for a drink, and could spend the night in a room upstairs, Acri said.


The building evolved into the downstairs bar with apartments upstairs. It’s always been that way as long as anyone can remember, the mayor said.


Kaylor had plans to invest more than $100,000 in renovations, Acri said. Just this past weekend, Kaylor had put new batteries in the smoke alarms, Acri added. The building is one of four in Steelton that Kaylor has owned since 2007.


“My retirement,” Kaylor mused as he surveyed the damage Tuesday.