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No cause released in fatal house fire in Pa.

February 02, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Authorities Sunday had not released the cause of a Saturday house fire in which a Washington Township woman died and dozens of cats were killed or injured.

Carol R. Ausherman, 46, of 11341 Orchard Road, died of smoke inhalation in the fire, which was reported by a neighbor shortly before 10 a.m., Franklin County Coroner Jeffrey R. Conner said Saturday. Ausherman, the daughter of Carolyn Ausherman of Quincy (Pa.) Village and the late former Franklin County commissioner and Realtor Joe Ausherman, was found in the living room of the two-story Cape Cod, Chief Deputy Coroner Ted Reed said Saturday.

"It looks like it started in the living room somewhere," said Waynesboro Fire Department Assistant Chief Jody Sanders. Since the fire involved a fatality, he said the investigation was turned over to Washington Township Police and the Pennsylvania State Police.

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Washington Township Police Sgt. Vernon Ashway and State Police Fire Marshal Stanford Sydnor could not be reached for comment Sunday.

Carolyn Ausherman Sunday declined to comment on her daughter's death.

Sanders said 25 or more dead cats were found in the house and "we took 12 or more out and I don't know how many of those made it."

More cats apparently lived in a shed behind the house, and he estimated there might have been 50 or more living in and out of Ausherman's home.

"I do know four cats were taken to the vet and I think there's about 11 cats at the shelter," said Candy Bennett, executive director of the Antietam Humane Society. Bennett said Sunday she did not know the status of the cats that required medical care.

"The way I understood it, there were a lot of cats in the basement" that had access to a fenced-in area behind the house, Bennett said. She did not know if all of Ausherman's cats were accounted for.

The cats taken to the shelter are being housed in one large dog kennel, Bennett said.

"Our cat room is full, as is," she said. "If anybody can step forward and take care of these cats ... it would be sincerely appreciated."

The shelter can be reached at 717-762-9091.

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