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Massive fire destroys bar building in Westmoreland County

Massive fire destroys bar building in Westmoreland County
Massive fire destroys bar building in Westmoreland County 02:27

AVONMORE, PA. (KDKA) -- Crews in Avonmore, Westmoreland County, spent hours on Saturday working to put out a fire that destroyed a bar building that has stood for the better part of a century in the town's downtown district.

Large flames shot up from the side of the My Buddy's Place building, and smoke could be seen for miles around the town.

Everyone made it out safely, but firefighters are working under the assumption that one dog did die in the fire. 

 For neighbors, watching the fire had been surreal. By 11 p.m., excavators had already reduced the majority of the structure to rubble in an attempt to help put out remaining hot spots.

More than 20 fire departments were called in to fight the fire. Crews faced both heat and a lack of water as challenges. 

Marvin Shankle watched the fire with his wife from their home a block away. He described seeing the owner of the bar run out.

"She came out screaming and yelling, 'Call 911,' everyone was panicking, and finally, we got some trucks in, and it just went from bad to worse; it's a total loss," he said.

Crews believe the fire started around the kitchen of the bar on the first floor in the back of the building.

My Buddy's Place is the third bar in town to catch fire in the past decade, according to firefighters.

"It's devastating, it's absolutely devastating. A small town, a historic building, we lost the last one we had, it brought tears to my eyes," Shankle said.

It's a place he had been to countless times for good food, a drink, or just a good conversation. 

He said the bar was built in the 1930s and was featured in the Matt Damon film "Promised Land."

"It's like home, it's like friends, it's like family, that bar was that to us," Shankle said. 

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