By SCOTT JOHNSON
LOCK HAVEN A "suspicious" fire destroyed the historic Tau Kappa Epsilon house, 245 W. Main St., late Wednesday night, and damaged the adjacent Rosamilia, Brungard and Rosamilia law offices at 241 W. Main St.
"At this point, this is considered suspicious," said city Fire Chief Bob Neff early Thursday morning as more than 100 volunteers from fire companies from three counties battled the two-alarm blaze to the three-story wood structure.
Hundreds of more onlookers were on hand to see the devastating fire, as smoke filled the entire city.
The fire was first reported at around 11:30 p.m.
"We haven't called the fire marshal in yet, but, when you have a fire to a building that's been vacant for years with no electricity into it, it's suspicious," Neff said.
The chief said the first floor of the law office was also damaged by flames, smoke and water. He wasn't sure about the second floor of the two-story structure as firemen were busy investigating it at that time.
Firemen around the scene called the blaze a "surround and drown" because the building has been vacant and unsightly for years, and was condemned several years ago.
"Because of the nature of the fire and the unknown circumstances inside, I wasn't going to risk anybody battling a fire to a building that many think should have been burned down years ago," Neff said.
Firemen were expected to be on scene for many hours Thursday morning as embers continued to flare in the old building.
For more information on the fire, please see Friday's print edition of The Express.