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Family of 9 displaced after home destroyed by fire

January 21, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

A family of five adults and four children was left homeless Tuesday afternoon when fire heavily damaged the farmhouse they rented in Greene Township.

"Me and my wife had just pulled out and my daughter called on the cell phone" to tell them the house was on fire, Rodney Lane Sr. said as he stood in the windy, 22-degree weather. A few yards away, firefighters were working to contain the fire in the 21?2-story wood frame house at 4935 Byers Road.

Lane said his son's family lived on one side of the house, which had been divided into separate living quarters. That was the half of the house where the fire apparently started, but he said his son was not home at the time.

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The owner of the property, Dr. Patrick Brannac of Chambersburg, Pa., also happened to be driving by at about the same time. Brannac said he had just driven by once and did not see anything, but turned around and drove back a few minutes later.

"By the time we got back, tons of smoke were coming out," he said.

"We drove by it this evening and it didn't look good," he said.

The front of the house was gutted and every window was broken out, he said.

"We're so glad no one was injured and no one was killed," Brannac said. "That's a blessing."

The Lanes lost most of their belongings to the fire and smoke. Rodney Lane said they had not finished paying for much of their furniture.

The fire was called in at 3:39 p.m. and the first units found heavy smoke coming from the first and second floors when they arrived, said Tim Baldwin of the Fayetteville (Pa.) Volunteer Fire Co.

Along with those from Letterkenny and Fayetteville, there were units from the Cumberland Valley Hose, Vigilant and West End Shippensburg fire companies at the scene. The last firefighters left the area at 7:25 p.m.

"The main problem was the fire running up the wall," Capt. Reagan Rhinehart of the Letterkenny Fire Department said.

Firefighters had to tear out the walls on the inside and outside of the house to get to the fire, he said.

Baldwin said there was heavy smoke damage throughout the house in addition to the fire damage in the front. Rhinehart said he thought the fire started in either the first floor or the basement.

Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshal Stanford Sydnor estimated the damage to the building and its contents at approximately $100,000. He said the cause was undetermined as of Tuesday evening and was under investigation.

"I have no idea. No idea," Lane said when asked if his family had anywhere to stay Tuesday night. The house was home to the Lanes, their son and his wife, an adult daughter, a niece and three grandchildren, he said.

Rhinehart said the Red Cross office in Chambersburg was going to be contacted to provide the family with overnight shelter.

"It's terrible for these people. What a time to lose your home," Brannac said.

Brannac said Tuesday night he was going to contact Greene Township officials to see if he could put house trailers or other temporary shelter on the property "to get them through the winter."

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