Residents clean up following Waynesboro fire

April 06, 2007|By DON AINES

WAYNESBORO, Pa. ? A Thursday night fire on South Church Street destroyed one home and left three others uninhabitable for months, displacing nine people, according to Waynesboro Fire Department officials.

"No doubt it was the wood stove. We're looking at an accidental fire," Fire Marshal Jerry Hartman said Friday. The wood stove was in the kitchen of Daniel and Robin Flohr of 337-339 S. Church St., a duplex converted into a single-family home, he said.

Wood had been put on the fire about 9 p.m. and the family went to bed, Hartman said. Heat from the pipe that vented the stove through the wall started the wood and vinyl siding on fire, he said.

Radiant heat from the blaze spread the fire from the Flohr home to the neighboring duplex to the south and to a house to the north, Hartman said. The house at 335 S. Church St. is so close to the house where the fire started that the rain gutters touch it, he said.


The Flohr house was gutted by the 10:52 p.m. fire, and from the rear was a charred skeleton of wooden studs and beams.

"I've got a skylight I didn't want," Delmas Reese of 341 1/2 South Church St. said Friday. Part of his roof collapsed into the attic, and there was water damage to much of the house, he said.

"I was in bed when it happened last night," Reese said. He came outside in his boxer shorts and saw the roof smoking at the home of his duplex neighbor, Kirk Swiat, of 341 S. Church St.

Swiat said he was at work in Greencastle, Pa., when the fire occurred. His girlfriend and daughter got out safely, he said.

"It's not pretty in there," he said, bringing out trash bags filled with belongings that survived the fire and water. "I'm going to be able to tell a story at work Monday."

Two cats in the house also got out, although one was locked in the burning attic until apparently freed by a firefighter breaking the door open.

A house restorer told Swiat it would take six months to repair the damage. Swiat and his family were to stay with his parents Friday night, but the house is insured and he expects to rent a house until his is fixed.

Reese and friends were hauling out an arsenal of firearms he collects, along with other personal property salvaged from his half of the duplex. He said he was staying with a friend.

Fire Chief Ron Flegel said the American Red Cross put the Flohrs, who have a son, up in a hotel Friday night. Carolyn Schmidt, who lives at 335 S. Church St., was taken to Waynesboro Hospital for observation, but was later released, Flegel said.

A neighbor said Schmidt rented the house with her husband, but Flegel did not know the husband's name. Carolyn Schmidt was staying with a daughter, he said.

The tight confines of South Church Street and the alley behind the houses made fighting the fire difficult, Flegel said. Firefighters also had to wait nearly an hour for Allegheny Power to disconnect power to electric lines in front of the houses before they could bring aerial hoses to bear on the flames, he said.

The distance from the alley to the rear of the houses also made it difficult for firefighters to use aerial hoses on the fire, Flegel said.

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