Old Johnsonburg Hotel up in flames… again

Firefighters responded Thursday morning at approximately 9 a.m. for a fire at the Old Johnsonburg Hotel along East Center Street.Firefighters and observers reported seeing smoke coming out of the second and third floor windows.There were no reported injuries and the small fire was extinguished in roughly 15 minutes.As an abandoned building, all utilities are shut off and no one has resided in the building for years.Bob Dickey, chief of the Johnsonburg Fire Department, reported to WJAC-TV that the lack of utilities is a "very good indication that [the fire] was intentionally set."The Old Johnsonburg Hotel was ablaze nearly a year ago, on June 23, 2011, as multiple fire units responded to a small basement fire in the unoccupied building. That instance also was suspicious in nature.If followup investigations point to arson, it would be the third such occurrence in Elk County in a month.Pauline Smith was the first victim when a fire early Wednesday morning, May 30, destroyed her West Main Street residence. The blaze reportedly broke out between 5:15 and 5:30 a.m.Officials investigated a June 17 fire that destroyed the Walnut Street home of Stephen and Georgina Gausman, who were out of town. The call reportedly came in at 2:58 a.m. The blaze caused an estimated $200,000 worth of damage.A fire early Saturday morning, June 23, claimed the life of 89-year-old Elizabeth H. Verbeck of 8 Center St., Ridgway. This fire was not suspected to be arson.Pick up a copy of the Friday, June 29, 2012 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.