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Fire in Pa. destroys home, injures fire chief

January 24, 2003|by RICHARD BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

BLUE RIDGE SUMMIT, Pa. - A Blue Ridge Summit woman was burned out of her home Thursday morning and the chief of the Blue Ridge Mountain Volunteer Fire Department broke an ankle while fighting the blaze.

The neat-looking two-story frame home in the 12700 block of Old Route 16 was nearly gutted in the fire that investigators said was caused by faulty wiring.

Fire Chief John Fleagle slipped inside the house on water that froze in the near zero temperatures. He was pulled out of the house and taken to Waynesboro Hospital for treatment, said Allen Becker, a paid driver in the fire department.

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Becker said Fleagle was released and was resting at home with a cast on his leg.

Ruby McKendrick, no age available, lived alone in the house. She was out of the house by the time the first units arrived, firefighters said.

McKendrick was staying with relatives Thursday night, fire officials said.

The fire started in the basement and moved up to the first floor, said Steve Swope, assistant chief of the Blue Ridge Mountain Volunteer Fire Department.

The call for the two-alarm fire came in shortly before 9 a.m., Swope said.

Swope had no damage estimate, but said it was major.

The temperature in Blue Ridge Summit Thursday morning was 6 degrees with a wind-chill factor that made it feel like 15 below zero, Becker said. Water froze almost as soon as it came out of fire hoses, he said.

"The guys were walking around with frozen coats and icicles on their faces," said Det. Sgt. Vernon Ashway, fire and arson investigator for the Washington Township Police Department, who investigated the blaze.

Units responded from Franklin and Adams counties in Pennsylvania and from Washington and Frederick counties in Maryland.

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