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Cops: fatal fire was accidental

February 05, 2003|by STACEY DANZUSO

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

BLAIRS MILLS, Pa. - The Huntingdon County, Pa., blaze that killed a Shippensburg, Pa., firefighter three weeks ago was ruled accidental, investigators said.

The fire at a Blairs Mills, Pa., residence Jan. 20 resulted from an electrical malfunction, Pennsylvania State Police in Hollidaysburg, Pa., said this week.

Keith Hess, 22, was killed when a section of a chimney and the second floor collapsed on him while he and other firefighters were putting out hot spots following the afternoon fire in the single-family dwelling at 246 Hotel Road.

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"It was electrical in nature. The fire started out of a living room outlet and spread throughout the structure," said Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshal Michael Eppolito.

He said officials are finished investigating the fire scene.

Two other firefighters from the Cumberland Valley Hose Co. were briefly trapped with Hess, but they were rescued, treated at Chambersburg (Pa.) Hospital and released, according to police.

More than 100 firefighters from Franklin, Cumberland, Juniata, Fulton and Huntingdon counties responded to the blaze.

Hess was a firefighter-emergency medical technician for the Fannett-Metal Fire Department, which was one of the first on the scene. He was also a volunteer firefighter for the West End Fire and Rescue Co. in Shippensburg.

More than 1,600 people, including hundreds of firefighters from the Tri-State area, attended a memorial service for Hess Jan. 25 at Shippensburg Area Senior High School.

Hess was buried with full firefighter honors.

Hess joined West End at age 14 as a junior firefighter. He was later recognized as Rookie of the Year in 1997 and Firefighter of the Year in 2001.

He lived with his parents, Robert L. and Judy D. Hess, at 9897 Possum Hollow Road in Shippensburg.

Hess was a 1998 graduate of Shippensburg Area Senior High School.

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