Fires leave families homeless

December 27, 2000|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

Fires leave families homeless

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - Two Mercersburg area house fires, one early Saturday, the other Tuesday night, left two families homeless this holiday season, the local fire chief said Wednesday.

Nick Barbuzanes, chief of the Mercersburg, Montgomery, Warren and Peters Fire Department in Mercersburg said the 3 a.m. Saturday fire destroyed a home off Blairs Valley Road. The Tuesday night blaze severely damaged at home at 15062 Mercersburg Road near the Maryland line.

Saturday's fire destroyed the home of David Hornbaker, his wife and two children, Barbuzanes said.

The house, which Hornbaker inherited, was not insured, the chief said.

Barbuzanes said the roof had fallen in by the time the first units arrived. "There wasn't much to save," he said. The family urged the firefighters to stop their effort to save the house because it was too far gone, he said.

The fire started in a wall behind a chimney hooked to a wood-burning stove in the old, two-story log home, Barbuzanes said.


There were no injuries.

The fire Tuesday night began in a kitchen wall in the 15062 Mercersburg Road home of Gary Gossard. Gossard, his wife and two children came home from seeing a movie when Gossard said he smelled smoke.

"He opened the front door and the smoke was so thick he couldn't see anything," Barbuzanes said. "He got down on his knees and started to crawl into the house but he couldn't get in more than a couple of feet because of the heat and smoke."

The family dog was trapped inside, Barbuzanes said. "He called the dog, but he didn't come."

Gossard got in through the back door and cut his hands on some broken glass, the chief said. He called the dog again but there was still no response. A firefighter with breathing equipment found the dog unconscious by a door and brought him out.

"We revived the dog with oxygen," Barbuzanes said. "I was out there today with the fire marshal and the dog was still alive, but the family said he wasn't doing too well. His lungs were pretty badly burned."

Barbuzanes said the cause of the fire has not been determined. Investigators think it may be electrical.

"It was smoldering for a long time," Barbuzanes said. "It was starving for oxygen but the windows had not blown in yet. When Gossard opened the front door it could have flared up with the rush of oxygen and blown him right out the door."

The Gossards returned to their home Wednesday trying to salvage what they could, Barbuzanes said. There was a lot of heat and smoke damage, he said. There was no damage estimate Wednesday.

Barbuzanes said he called the Red Cross to help the family with their clothing needs. The Gossards are staying with relatives in Maryland, he said.

The fire department is trying to help the Hornbakers with their needs, especially clothing.

Needed are Women's pants size 12, girl's pants size junior 16, men's pants size 42, medium women's tops and men's shirts X-large, women's size 8 shoes, men's size 8 shoes and winter coats for all.

The Hornbakers moved into a mobile home on their property. It has electricity but there is no running water yet, Barbuzanes said. They also need a gas stove, he said.

Anyone wishing to help can call the Hornbakers at 717-328-4536 or the fire house at 717-328-3727.

The chief offered several suggestions on avoiding fires in the home during the cold months.

First, he said, every home should have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Chimneys, stoves and furnaces should be cleaned annually.

Don't leave kerosene or electric heaters running while away, especially with pets around.

Older folks should keep their glasses near the telephone so they can read the dial in an emergency.

And never try to fight a fire in a house. Get everybody out and call for help at a neighbor's house.

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