Fire destroys Pa. house

October 11, 2007|By JENNIFER FITCH

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CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - A two-alarm fire destroyed an Antrim Township couple's Talhelm Road home Wednesday afternoon.

Neighbor Linda Ganoe said she heard an odd "shhhhh" sound at noon and saw flames coming from the corner of Donald and Shirley McNamee's home at 8515 Talhelm Road.

"I ran in and called the fire department hysterically," Ganoe said.

She also called Donald McNamee at work. He called his wife, who left her job at Frederick (Md.) Memorial Hospital and spent almost two hours in transit.

When she arrived home, 50 firefighters from Franklin and Washington counties were working to spray water and foam on the residence, which was being remodeled. The couple already had added a 40-foot-by-40-foot, three-car garage to it.


The cause and origin of the fire were under investigation by a Pennsylvania State Police fire marshal.

"The whole house was fully involved," said Mike Luger, deputy fire chief with Rescue Hose Co. of Greencastle, Pa.

The firefighters used tanks and hoses to carry water from hydrants at the fire hall in Marion, Pa., and Gibble's Potato Chips in Chambersburg.

"We checked the stream up here and it was dry," Luger said.

The majority of the blaze was out in an hour and a half, although firefighters battled hot spots for hours afterward.

Firefighters pulled a yellow 1970 Dodge Dart from the garage, bringing tears to Donald McNamee's eyes when he saw his beloved restoration project ruined.

"He's worked on it all his life, and now it's gone," Shirley McNamee said.

The couple married in April 2002, but Shirley McNamee lived in the vinyl-siding home for 10 years before that. She described several completed and ongoing remodeling projects, like the 16-foot-by-24-foot covered porch, new hardwood flooring and kitchen island.

Shirley McNamee also talked about the misfortune of totaling her Toyota Scion in an Aug. 24 crash.

Her husband, a retired truck driver, typically works night shifts at the Interstate 81 Welcome Center in State Line, Pa., but had been called to work during the day.

Very few things were salvaged from the remains of the house. Among them were packs of photographs, a basket, several tools and Shirley McNamee's jewelry box.

"I asked them to get my jewelry, and they brought it out to me," she said, her voice choking with emotion.

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