Blaze destroys Pa. home

January 10, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Firefighters from Franklin and Cumberland counties fought a Monday evening fire that destroyed a Greene Township couple's home, and could be seen for miles.

"We left here about 2:30 in the afternoon and went to work," said James Robinson of 7764 Nyesville Road. Robinson said he and his wife, Debbie, were working at Letterkenny Army Depot when they learned of the fire, which was called in to Franklin County 911 at 7:17 p.m.

"When we left our station, you could see it," said Pleasant Hall Fire Co. Chief Eric Varner. He estimated the fire hall is about six or seven miles from the Robinson's home.


Robinson said there was a woodstove in the two-story wooden house, but he did not know if that was the cause, or if it might have been electrical. "I just cleaned the chimney about three weeks ago," he said.

Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshal Trooper Jeffrey Sarver was at the scene Monday night to investigate the cause of the fire.

Robinson said they had lived in the house since 1991. No one was home at the time and there were no pets inside, he said.

"It's an older house. It went up pretty quick," said Varner. By the time firefighters arrived, one side was engulfed in flames and they concentrated their efforts on keeping the fire from spreading to a barn behind the house or bringing down power lines in front of the structure.

"We had explosions, as well. It could have been ammunition," said Varner, who said it sounded like firecrackers going off. Propane tanks behind the house also vented flames, he said.

No firefighters were injured, Varner said.

The fire burned much of the house down to its foundation, leaving a masonry chimney standing. Firefighters pulled down the front wall of a one-story section that remained standing, revealing a gutted interior.

Along with Pleasant Hall, units from the Letterkenny Army Depot Fire Department and the Franklin, Fayetteville, West End Fire & Rescue, St. Thomas, Marion, Vigilant Hose, South Newton Hopewell-Newburg and the Cumberland Valley Hose companies were at the scene, Varner said. Tankers from five of the companies were used to ferry in water, he said.

Varner said the Red Cross had been notified, but he believed the Robinsons were making arrangements for overnight accommodations.

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