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Apartment fire displaces Pa. man

August 19, 2002|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - A Waynesboro man had to find temporary living quarters after his apartment received $5,000 in damage from a Friday night electrical fire, Waynesboro Fire Department Chief Dale Fishack said.

Fishack said the man, whose identity wasn't available, refused assistance from the American Red Cross.

The 10 p.m. fire at 14 N. Potomac St. was caused by overloaded wiring, Fishack said. The breaker had tripped twice earlier that day.

The call to 911 was for a report of smoke in the attic.

When firefighters arrived they found smoke, but no fire. Rather than rip open walls and ceilings aimlessly, Fishack said he called New Franklin Fire Department for its thermal imaging camera. About 15 to 20 minutes later, the camera arrived and firefighters were able to pinpoint the fire in a 6- to 8-inch space between the attic floor and the second-story apartment's ceiling.

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A wire had shorted, arcing and catching the insulation on fire, Fishack said.

Because it was a slow, smoldering fire, the second-story apartment resident was awake to smell the smoke, Fishack said.

No one was injured.

There was minor smoke and water damage to the two apartments on the first floor, which were still inhabitable, Fishack said.

The apartment building's owner, Wayne Kennedy, had insurance, but none of the tenants had rental insurance, Fishack said.

Fishack said the Waynesboro Fire Department has raised about $4,000 toward the cost of a $10,000 thermal imaging camera. Once Waynesboro has a camera it will take 2 to 3 minutes to get one to a local fire, he said.

Seven fire companies were called to the downtown fire. With the drought situation, Fishack said his recent policy is to call extra tanker trucks so firefighters don't draw as much water from Waynesboro's main source. Waynesboro's reservoir is fed by mountain streams.

Tanker trucks were called from Smithsburg, Leitersburg and Mount Alto, Pa., he said.

About 25 firefighters were called with the fire extinguished in 30 to 40 minutes, he said. That time period includes waiting for the camera to arrive.

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