ALLENTOWN, Pa. - Memorial Day was no holiday for Allentown firefighters. They battled a huge fire Monday afternoon that gutted one business and left another with major damage.
The fire broke out just after 4 p.m. at RDM Enterprises, 1302 Irving St., behind Woodlawn Memorial Park.
The business makes and finishes parts for violins and other instruments, according to owner Feimin Fann.
"They make a lot of things for string instruments," said Capt. John Christopher with the Allentown Fire Dept. "They have a lot of rods and a lot of wood product on hand."
Bands of heavy, thick smoke drew a large crowd of onlookers to the cemetery.
"It's amazing," said Carrie Seagraves, who saw it from the Tilghman Street Bridge. "The smoke is going, like, miles."
"It's really something," added neighbor Jack Walker. "I don't know if they'll get it under control or not."
The choking black smoke forced some people to leave their homes.
"We live over in Congress Apartments, and you can't even breathe in our apartment," said neighbor Susan Sebring.
"Since we have asthma, it like hurts a little bit," said neighbor Ronald Schmeltzer. "I, like, start to gag."
Investigators are now trying to figure out how the fire started.
"We're not sure what happened," said Fann.
Min said his family has owned this small business since 2007.
"It's our livelihood," he said.
Next door is another family business, Consolidated Carpet Mills. A fire wall kept the flames out, but Consolidated's owner said thousands of dollars in rugs are ruined.
"I was worried because the other business, I think, is carpet," said Sebring, "so I was worried with like plastics and all that contaminating the air."
One firefighter was treated for unknown injuries, fire officials said. Meantime, both business owners were left scrambling.
"Better have a lot of insurance," said Walker.
Both buildings do have insurance, but Fann said he will have to tear down his music business.
"We don't know what to do next," he said. "We have no place to go."
Allentown, PA 18102