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Afternoon fire damages house in Mercersburg

February 28, 2007|by JENNIFER FITCH

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - A napping homeowner escaped a Tuesday afternoon fire half a block south of the square in Mercersburg when a hallway smoke detector was activated.

"The smoke detector saved his life and saved the house from burning down," MMP&W Fire Chief Dusty Stoner said.

Patrick Burns had been using a heat gun to strip paint on the door frame of a back porch, then paused for a nap, Stoner said. The fire spread from the gun to the door frame, door and porch at 30 W. Seminary St. around 2:30 p.m., he said.

Stoner eventually ended up with 20 to 30 firefighters from a half dozen area departments, but, relying on volunteers, he found himself short-staffed at first.

"Oftentimes, there's not a lot of manpower in the afternoon," Stoner said.

The 2 1/2-story brick house sustained smoke and heat damage on its interior and had heavy damage in a first-floor bathroom. The porch was nearly destroyed.

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Several cats were believed to have escaped the blaze.

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