Editor's note: Information on those injured in the fire has been updated in this story.
CAMBRIDGE SPRINGS — Fire swept through the 132-year-old Riverside Inn early Tuesday, completely destroying the historic building and leaving a hole in the community where it had played a central role for generations.
“We have a plaque in the fire hall with every one of our chiefs on it and it’s been the biggest nightmare call for every one of those chiefs,” said Tom Glenn, safety officer for the Cambridge Springs Volunteer Fire Department, “and unfortunately, our current chief is having to live it.”
None of the three employees or 12 guests present at the time of the fire were injured, according to Glenn, but two people at the scene were hospitalized with injuries of unknown extent. One resident was injured when they fell in the parking lot, while an unnamed firefighter was struck by a vehicle as he directed traffic at the scene, according to Cambridge Springs Fire Department Chief Jeff Murdock.
The injured firefighter was taken to UPMC Hamot, according to Murdock, who had not been updated on the firefighter's condition as of Tuesday afternoon.
“We got everyone out and that’s what matters,” said Jeremy Ball, general manager at the inn, “but a piece of Cambridge Springs history is gone.”
Ball returned to the inn at around 1 a.m. after being contacted by employees about how to turn off what they at first believed was a false alarm. Ball checked the kitchen door when he arrived, finding it too hot to open.
Cambridge Springs firefighters were dispatched to the fire at 1:10 a.m. and arrived at the scene within three or four minutes, Glenn said. Smoke could be seen coming out of the eaves and front door as they arrived.
The fire was the worst he has seen in 32 years with the Cambridge Springs fire department, Glenn said.
“Most of the materials in that building are 132 years old. You’re talking dry-tinder wood filled with antiques,” Glenn said. “It was just a nightmare.”
About 20 fire departments from Crawford and Erie counties responded to the scene of the fire, along with the Pennsylvania State Police and the Crawford County Scuba Team.