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Franklin County, Pa., fires damage duplex, destroy vacant house

May 13, 2006|BY DON AINES

FRANKLIN COUNTY, PA.

A fire at a Chambersburg duplex on Friday displaced six people from their homes, and another fire in Waynesboro destroyed a vacant house in the borough.

A clothes dryer is believed to be the cause of the Friday morning's two-alarm fire at the Chambersburg duplex.

"I just left a little while ago to do a job here in Chambersburg ... This is what I came home to," Dave Combs, who lived at 352 W. Burkhart Ave., said as he surveyed the damage. "I'm looking for my dog ... I don't see him."

Combs said his Jack Russell terrier was in the yard when he left. A neighbor later said the dog had been found safe.

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The rear of the building was heavily damaged by fire, and there was smoke damage to much of the rest of the house, acting Chambersburg Emergency Services Chief William Dubbs said. There was no one home in either unit when the fire started, he said.

The fire was called in at 10:49 a.m., according to a 911 dispatcher.

Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshal Jeffrey Sarver said the fire appeared to have started in the laundry room to the rear of Combs' home.

"He had just put a load of clothes in when he left," Sarver said.

The dryer was not connected to a ventilating hose, and the hot air was blowing onto the wall, Sarver said. Over a period of time, that would dry out the wood and lower its ignition temperature, he said.

Dubbs said the local Red Cross chapter was going to assist Combs in finding overnight lodging. The five people who lived in the other half the building would be staying with family and friends, he said.

Fourteen pieces of fire equipment and about 40 firefighters from the department and area fire companies responded to the fire, Dubbs said.

The two-alarm fire in Waynesboro on Friday afternoon destroyed a vacant house at 109 N. Broad St., Waynesboro Fire Chief Ron Flegel said.

"It's a total loss," Flegel said.

The cause of the fire, which was reported at 4:37 p.m., was being investigated by Waynesboro Fire Marshal Jerry Hartman, but might have been caused by an electrical malfunction in the kitchen of the 43-year-old prefabricated house, owned by Margaret Spangler of Waynesboro.

"It was a vacant house being prepared for new occupants," Flegel said.

The fire is not regarded as suspicious, and no was in the house at the time the fire was called in, Flegel said.

Firefighters still were at the scene at 7:30 p.m., he said.

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