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Pa. house fire causes $1.25 million in damage

February 03, 2006|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

FANNETTSBURG, Pa. - A house under construction in Metal Township was destroyed by fire Thursday morning, causing an estimated $1.25 million in damage, according to Metal Township Fire and Rescue Co. Chief Dale Hall.

The house in the 7000 block of Path Valley Road in northern Franklin County belonged to Dr. Julia E. Blum, according to Franklin County Tax Office records. Hall said he was told the house was about three weeks from being completed.

The house was vacant at the time and the owner was away, Hall said. The cause of the fire was undetermined and under investigation by a Pennsylvania State Police fire marshal.

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The sprawling one-story building was engulfed in flames when the first firefighters arrived, Hall said. When firefighters left the fire station after the 3:03 a.m. call "we could see the glow" from the blaze, he said.

Hall said the house was too far gone to save and firefighters concentrated their efforts on keeping the fire from spreading. No firefighters were injured, he said.

"It took a lot of water to put it out," Hall said.

The task was complicated by having to shuttle tankers back and forth to get water from a creek about a mile away from the house.

Firefighters were at the scene until about 9:45 a.m., he said. State Police Fire Marshal Trooper Jeffrey Sarver was still inspecting the scene Thursday afternoon, police said.

The Fannett-Metal, Pleasant Hall, Shade Gap, Mercersburg, St. Thomas, McConnellsburg, Franklin and Marion fire companies assisted Metal Township firefighters, Hall said.

Less than two years ago, Blum escaped a fire at her former home on Nelson Street in Chambersburg, Pa. On the morning of Nov. 15, 2004, Blum was asleep in a second-floor bedroom when she was awakened by smoke coming from the first floor, according to a report issued at that time by now-retired state police Fire Marshal Stanford Sydnor.

Sydnor said at the time that Blum jumped from the second floor to escape the fire, but went back into the house to save her pets. One dog and two cats survived the fire, but another cat was killed, Sydnor said.

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