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Fire destroys Avis antique shop

CHRIS MORELLI/THE EXPRESS Smoke billows from the building as firemen try to get it contained.

AVIS — A raging fire destroyed an antique shop in downtown Avis on Thursday.

The blaze started on the first floor of Powell’s Antique and Lamp Shop, located at 18 W. Central Ave. and quickly spread throughout the building.

The owner of the building, John Powell, said he was “lacquering” when the chemicals he was working with ignited, sparking the fire.

“It was accidental. I was lacquering some stuff I had polished up,” Powell explained. “I was using a heat gun to dry it up because it wasn’t drying right and it caught on fire. When it blew up in my face, it spilled all over and that was it.”

According to Powell, there were other chemicals nearby.

CHRIS MORELLI/THE EXPRESS A firefighter smashes out a window in the building to aid firemen.

“It was all the lacquer and thinner,” he said, his voice trailing off.

Powell sustained superficial burns to his hands and face. He was treated at the scene by EMS.

Two tenants who resided in an upstairs apartment of the two-story, standalone brick building next to the Post Office and just a half block from the Avis Fire Co. were not injured.

The first call came in at 11:22 a.m., according to emergency communications.

More than a dozen fire companies responded to the scene, including Avis, Hand-in-Hand, Woolrich, Mill Hall, Dunnstown, Wayne Township, Citizen’s Hose in Lock Haven, Citizen’s Hose in Jersey Shore, Goodwill Hose, Beech Creek/Blanchard, Old Lycoming Township, Montoursville, Nippenose Valley and Independent Hose Jersey Shore. Jersey Shore EMS also responded.

CHRIS MORELLI/THE EXPRESS Business owner John Powell speaks with a trooper from the Pennsylvania State Police about the cause of the fire.

Firefighters battled the blaze, which spread to the roof, from several different angles as it raged. Multiple windows were broken by the volunteers to avoid exploding. Several fire companies were on scene until mid-afternoon.

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