Officials: Fire At Candy Factory Wasn't Severe

The landmark candy factory caught fire in a second-floor packaging area, where firefighters had to wade through melted chocolate.

CANONSBURG, Pa. (AP) — A landmark candy factory in southwestern Pennsylvania caught fire, but the owner and fire officials said damage was not as severe as first feared and that the business will likely reopen sometime next week.

The fire at Sarris Candies in Canonsburg was reported about 7 a.m. Friday.

The building caught fire in a second-floor packaging area where firefighters had to wade through melted chocolate, Canonsburg Fire Chief Tom Lawrence said, not in an upstairs apartment as was initially reported by some media outlets. No one was hurt.

The chief said the fire caused "minimal structural damage" and company president Bill Sarris said most of his seasonal candy was stored at an offsite warehouse and will still be delivered on time. Delivery trucks were out and about even as dozens of firefighters mopped up the smoldering building which houses not only a factory but a candy store and an adjoining ice cream parlor.

"As far as the parlor is concerned, I don't believe there is any damage," Lawrence said.

A state police fire marshal is investigating the cause the fire.

The company has about 250 employees, many of whom waited in a parking lot while emergency crews set up a command post. The fire was under control by 8 a.m. though crews mopped up for most of the morning.

"At first you think months, then weeks and now it's a couple of days," Sarris said about how long he expects to be closed. "We keep looking, and it's not as bad as it looked."

The football-field sized business was founded by his father, Frank Sarris, who died in 2010.

Frank Sarris began making chocolates in his basement in 1960 before formally starting the business in 1963, which also sells its candy at retail outlets and supermarkets and through fundraisers for schools and other organizations.

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