She said she ran to a neighbor's house and called for help.
Von Sternberg said she recently had spent money and effort to put in a bar, wood paneling and other improvements in the basement.
"All that hard work I slaved over," she said. "It caught me so off guard."
Bryan Welch, assistant chief of the Clear Spring Volunteer Fire Co., said it took roughly 20 minutes to knock down the flames. When the first units arrived, he said he sent three firefighters to attack the fire's source in the basement.
"Three minutes after we arrived on the scene, fire broke through the second floor," he said.
Welch said he ordered a second team into the living room area. He said the fire appears to have climbed the basement door and walls and eaten through the ceiling.
Von Sternberg said she found her cat in the basement just inside the door.
"She always stands out on the porch," she said. "She wanted to stay in the basement today."
Officials from the state Fire Marshal's Office were called to the scene and were investigating the cause of the fire at press time.
In addition to Clear Spring, units from Maugansville, Hancock, Williamsport, Halfway and Air Unit 25 responded to the fire.