Beloved family flower shop says it will “bloom again” after fire – CBS Pittsburgh

By: Jessica Guay

EAST MCKEESPORT (KDKA) – A beloved family florist in East McKeesport caught fire and flames spread to an apartment on Saturday afternoon.

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It was a close call for co-owner Mary Lechliter King and her employees. A neighbor noticed Lea’s Floral Shop was on fire and quickly alerted everyone inside.

Lea’s Floral Shop has been around for 62 years and 4 generations, but this community staple won’t run out.

“I ran out and as we ran out, the compressors in the basket room exploded. So all this smoke and soot and everything fell and we were just trying to get away from it, ”Lechliter King said.

For decades, families in East McKeesport and the surrounding area have relied on the family business for new arrangements for birthdays, anniversaries, funerals, or for no reason whatsoever.

“1959, my grandfather bought it and then took my mother on board. She had been here for 50 years, ”said Lechliter King.

Saturday was a normal day for Lechliter King and his employees until a neighbor warned them that the second floor of the store was on fire. The flames quickly spread to an apartment.

Everyone inside the business and the apartment tenant came out unharmed, but one cat did not survive.

“As it went up we could have had so much more damage, we could have been injured, the building is replaceable, the merchandise is replaceable. Not all of my employees are, they are not, ”said Lechliter King.

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She said it was not the family’s first fire at the business.

“It was very scary. In fact, we had the exact same fire in 1983, so we’ve been through this once before, ”said Lechliter King.

The second floor of the company is destroyed. Lechliter King said on the first floor it looks like the front showroom and side room are okay, but in the back the workroom has a lot of water damage.

The firefighters worked quickly to save what they could.

“We were able to get a quick hit and we were able to set up our trucks here. All the crews have done a great job here. It was just impeccable timing with everyone, ”said Anthony Swidorsky, he is the deputy chief of United Volunteer Fire / Rescue.

Lea’s flower shop will bloom again and they will rebuild themselves.

“We are going to hit the road again,” said Lechliter King.

Lechliter King said they would be working in a garage. They will try to be operational by Monday.

Firefighters said the apartment could be salvaged one day but is not habitable at the moment.

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The Allegheny County Fire Marshal is investigating the cause.

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