Landlord won’t rebuild after fire

Wayne Bump believes his apartment building at 309-311 Brandon Ave., which burned Friday night in a three-alarm fire, is a total loss, and he has no plans to rebuild now that he has moved to South Carolina.

Water from firemen’s hoses had turned much of the sidewalk into ice, and Bump was pouring ice melt on the sidewalk when a reporter visited the scene late Saturday afternoon.

Investigators said the blaze started in the kitchen of Joseph Denardo’s second-floor apartment on the 311 side, and was caused by unattended cooking.

“The fire went from his apartment and across to the apartment on the other side,” Bump said as he stood in front of the ravaged apartment house and gestured from right to left.

The roof was burned off as was much of the back balcony, Bump said, adding that the building sustained extensive water damage. He said he had fire insurance, although, according to fire officials, Denardo and the couple who lived below him with their 4-month-old infant, did not.

Everyone safely escaped the building when the fire broke out just before 6 p.m.

Denardo, who had lived in the building for 15 years, said he was heating cooking oil on the stove to make French fries, when the fire erupted.

Bump was in town because a new tenant was getting ready to move into the vacant three-bedroom unit on the 309 side. He has owned the building since 1999.

He arrived on the scene Friday night just as firefighters were in the midst of battling the blaze. The mother of the tenant moving in called him and told him his building was on fire.

“When I got here, I saw all the fire trucks, and the damage. It just made me sick,” Bump said.

He recalled another fire that happened a few years ago when a tenant in another building he owned, this one in South Williamsport, accidentally left French fries burning on the stove.

“However, that fire was contained to the kitchen,” he said.

The local chapter of the American Red Cross was assisting the tenants displaced by Friday’s fire.

A neighbor reported hearing “a loud boom” when the fire broke out. Bump said the noise likely came from small portable propane cylinders Denardo kept outside on his porch landing.