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Firefighters save house despite stuck trucks

March 20, 1997

By CLYDE FORD

Staff Writer, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Jefferson County firefighters had to scramble, but they managed to save a home Thursday afternoon after two of their fire trucks sunk in the mud at the end of a long dirt lane to the burning house.

The blaze was discovered shortly before 1 p.m. Thursday. Fire trucks from Citizens Fire Co. and Independent Fire Co. were on the scene quickly, but the first two vehicles, a fire engine and a tanker truck, that attempted to make it down the quarter-mile long driveway sank in the mud.

Firefighters in their heavy, protective clothing, jumped into the back of a four-wheel drive pickup truck, carrying their air tanks and portable fire extinguishers.

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The lighter pickup truck drove down the lane to the burning, one-story house. The fire trucks weighed about 50,000 pounds each and were stuck in the mud until a tow truck was able to pull them out later.

Once they reached the house, firefighters sprayed water from their small, portable fire extinguishers around the burning wood frame and then hauled out smoldering furniture until a four-wheel drive firefighting unit from the state forestry service arrived at the scene.

The pickup truck made several trips down to the fire engine to haul up equipment, a ventilation fan to clear out smoke and a chainsaw to cut through the floor to get to an area still smoldering.

No one was injured in the blaze and no one was home at the time it started, said Citizens Fire Chief Jay Cepelka.

The house is occupied by Rachel Gibbard and owned by F&M Bank in Ranson, W.Va. The cause of the fire was unknown, but appeared to have started in the living room near a chair, Cepelka said.

The living room had extensive fire damage and there was heat and smoke damage throughout the house, he said.

Damage was estimated at about $15,000, Cepelka said.

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