Burley Hartin watched the custom billiards table business he owned for 56 years burn to the ground Friday.
"It spread very fast," said Mr. Hartin, 79, still reeling from the day's events. "Everything in our shop is dried lumber."
His son, Scott Hartin, arrived around 8 a.m. at Valley Billiards, 3225 Route 119 near New Alexandria. About a half-hour later, the man's sidekick, a black Labrador retriever named Ram, began barking and trying to get his attention.
"The dog really warned Scott that something was wrong," said the elder Mr. Hartin, of Monroeville. "He followed the dog to the back and saw a fire and dialed 911."
Scott Hartin, 42, is hearing impaired, and it took three calls to a telephone relay message service to reach emergency dispatchers.
Chief Bob Rosatti of the Forbes Road Volunteer Fire Department in Salem said the fire was caused by water seeping into an electrical unit after superstorm Sandy, which drenched the region for several days. His crew was dispatched at 8:47 a.m. and could see smoke in the air from at least 4 miles away.
The west quarter of the wood-framed building was engulfed in flames through the roof when they arrived, he said. A west-blowing wind helped propel the fire through the windowless, 200-foot-long structure.
"It raced through the building pretty rapidly and caused the building to be a complete loss," said Chief Rosatti, whose crew was accompanied by nine other departments. Valley Billiards lost $200,000 in inventory.
Burley Hartin said he started the company in Pitcairn and rented the current building in 1988.
Mr. Hartin's parents were hearing impaired, as were three of the company's four employees.
"It's a shame I didn't have a bigger factory and more business," he said. "I could have put more of them to work."
Scott Hartin had made a career of building and installing pool tables.
"He doesn't even want to talk about it," Burley Hartin said. "It's unbelievable how distraught he is."
Taryn Luna: email@example.com or 412-263-1985. First Published November 2, 2012 1:45 PM