Welty Road home destroyed by fire

March 31, 2005|by PEPPER BALLARD

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Standing outside her Washington Township home in her bathrobe and slippers, Anita Sprankle watched through tears as firefighters who helped knock down a two-alarm fire there Wednesday morning walked in and out of her blackened front entranceway.

Sprankle and her fiancé, Larry West, not only lost their home in the 8:30 a.m. blaze, but lost four of their five dogs: Three cocker spaniels, Harley, Valentino and Benzii, and a Pomeranian beagle mixed puppy, Spot, were on the back porch when the fire broke out and were killed, Sprankle said. Cannon, a boxer pit bull mix, made it out of the 13139 Welty Road house alive.

Washington Township Police Department Sgt. Vernon Ashway, fire marshal for Washington Township, said the fire was caused by an electric heater that was on the porch where the dogs were kept.


The rancher style house, which West said he's lived in since it was built in 1966, is "pretty much a total loss," said Waynesboro Fire Department Chief Ronald Flegel. He said the fire started on the back porch and moved quickly through the ceiling. It took firefighters about 45 minutes to bring the fire under control, he said.

"Our home and our dogs and our lives were here," Sprankle said, holding back tears. "We wasn't burnt up in the fire and that's the most important thing."

Some windows to the house were broken and charred around the edges. Pieces of the roof hung over the front porch where an undisturbed bench sat. Only black could be seen through a large window, its panes still intact, that was facing the road.

West, 65, who is on oxygen, leaned on the trunk of an Oldsmobile parked a short distance from the house. He said he didn't want to talk about the fire.

Sprankle said she was sleeping when West yelled, "We have a fire." She said she ran out into the road, "flagged somebody down to call 911" and saw that West got out and was standing to the rear of the house.

Judy Bartholow, executive director of the Waynesboro chapter of American Red Cross, said the couple planned to stay with family following the fire, but needed clothes.

She wrote down shoe sizes and clothing sizes for the couple as Sprankle provided them. A firefighter handed Sprankle her white purse - gray from the smoke. Her face lit up as she pulled out money and other items.

Bartholow said the couple's medication was unsalvageable so she ordered replacements.

West, who occasionally paced, "lost a lot of antiques that were his parents," Bartholow said. "The older you get, the harder it gets."

Flegel said between 50 and 60 firefighters from Waynesboro, Emmitsburg, South Mountain, Fountaindale, Leitersburg, Mont Alto, Blue Ridge Summit, Smithsburg and Long Meadow responded to the scene.

Staff Writer Richard F. Belisle contributed to this story.

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