Cearfoss Pike home burns

December 05, 2003|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

A fire on Cearfoss Pike that gutted the home of a family of eight Thursday afternoon apparently originated in a kerosene heater, a fire official said.

No one was injured in the blaze that broke out at about 4:39 p.m. at the 14114A Cearfoss Pike home of Curtis and Sheena Zellers.

Joe Goodrich, of the Maugansville Goodwill Volunteer Fire Co., said a small flash fire ignited inside the heater after Zellers open a damper valve inside the heater. The fire spread when the flames met the leaking kerosene, he said.


Rhonda House, Curtis Zeller's daughter, said the fire engulfed a portion of the home before the heater could be taken from the house.

She said her father and her husband, Kenny House, "tried to drag it out the kitchen window but couldn't ... It went up in a matter of minutes."

Rhonda House said six of the 11 people, all family members, living in the two-residence structure had to jump from a window into the arms of her husband, who waited below.

When 10-year-old Dylan Crites jumped out, "he took me and him to the ground," said Kenny House, who moved with his wife and children into the house two weeks ago.

None of the residents reported serious injuries. Three pets - two dogs and a cat - also escaped the fire.

The residents, other family members and friends gathered on the lawn of a home across the street and watched as firefighters worked to extinguish the blaze.

Within 30 minutes, the once beige/yellow exterior had turned a chalky black. Firefighters were kept busy extinguishing scattered pieces of burning siding and cutting holes out of the roof above the attic.

Goodrich said nearly three dozen firefighters from companies in Maugansville, Williamsport and Hagerstown had the fire under control in about 20 minutes.

Goodrich said it likely would take them hours to make sure the fire didn't flare up.

"The knock-down was quick. The hard part is the inside of the house is a log-cabin-type structure," Goodrich said. "We have to peel back all the wood sheathing so we can get all the hot spots amongst the logs."

Goodrich said Thursday night that the fire wasn't completely extinguished until after 7:15 p.m. Goodrich said the fire was ruled accidental soon after crews arrived on the scene.

An estimate of damage was not immediately available.

Goodrich said most of the fire damage was to the right side of the dual-family structure, although there was smoke and water damage in the other portion of the building.

Kenny House said the effects of the fire would be more difficult to cope with because of the approaching holiday season.

"Any time of the year is bad for this, but this makes it worse," he said.

As he spoke, Rhonda House's face lighted up and she surprised her husband and two other relatives, both children, with a bit of good news. She had moved Christmas gifts out of the home Wednesday.

"I just took all their presents out of the attic and put them into the shed attic" she said.

The news earned her a hug from her husband.

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