Fire investigator: Grease fire started blaze in Juniata Terrace

JUNIATA TERRACE – The cause of the six-alarm blaze that damaged a dozen homes in the Terrace has been determined.

Fire Investigator Mike Force said a preliminary investigation shows the fire originated as a grease fire in the kitchen of 332 Terrace Blvd. and then spread to surrounding units. Force estimates the damage is in the range of $6 million.

Force is encouraging all those displaced by the fire to attend an informational meeting from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Brooklyn Fire Co. on South Main Street. He said those who have insurance information should bring those documents with them to the meeting. People can stop by at any time between 1 and 3 p.m. It won’t take more than 20 minutes or so to gather individuals’ insurance information.

“It’s imperative that people come to this meeting … I need to get the numbers to the county by Monday,” Force said

“This was a very unique situation … once the fire got above the firewalls, it was off to the races,” Force said.

After just hours of the companies gaining control of the scene and clearing it, a brief flare up above the firewall on the second floor of one of the units brought several fire companies back to the scene.

Former Lewistown Fire Chief Bob McCaa was one of the last to leave the scene this morning and said some very flammable material in the roof of one the units was the cause of the flare-up.

In addition to utility workers on the scene checking each unit, some of those affected by the fire were beginning to assess the damage to their property as well. Mifflin County Emergency Services Coordinator Phil Lucas the count is still 18 units damaged or destroyed, 22 units in total affected. The American Red Cross volunteers responded to the families that were displaced, and have assisted to get shelter to those who were not staying with families.

Mifflin Juniata United Way Director Marie Mulvihill said the agency is working closely with the Red Cross and filling in where they are needed.

She said people who have items to donate are encouraged to take them to Goodwill, while those willing to make cash donations can visit any branch of the Juniata Valley Bank which has set up an account for those displaced by the fire.

At a brief emergency meeting, the Mayor of the Borough of Juniata Terrace has declared a State of Emergency pertaining to the 300 block of Terrace Boulevard, in the area of 322 Terrace Blvd. through 356 Terrace Blvd., as of 4 p.m. Friday, March 28. Only residents and homeowners are allowed. Any non-immediate person must obtain official permission to enter the area. This State of Emergency will be in effect for the next seven days.

Force said he would like to commend the firefighters who responded to the blaze.

Lauren Kershner can be reached at Kiernan Schalk can be reached at