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Blaze that left 10 homeless in Chambersburg apparently caused by sparkler

June 11, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- The house Lucy Perez and her family spent three years refurbishing was gutted by fire Monday, leaving 10 people temporarily homeless.

"The house is condemned. It's gone," Perez said Tuesday, standing outside the shell of the seven-bedroom home she bought in 2005. "We're staying in a hotel. We'll be there for a few days."

The fire that drew more than 100 firefighters and 40 pieces of apparatus to Broad Street Monday afternoon was apparently caused by her 12-year-old nephew playing with a sparkler, she said.

"That's what he told the fire marshal," she said.

The boy said he put the sparkler out and tossed it outside, she said. However, the sparkler caught a couch on the enclosed rear porch on fire. The fire in the two-story frame house was fed by a propane bottle for an outdoor grill on the porch, she said, which likely accounted for a booming sound two neighbors reported hearing.

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Perez lived in the house with her four children, ages 17, 13, 10 and 4; her sister, Olga Moya, and her children, ages 15, 12 and 9; and Perez's 13-day-old granddaughter.

Moya and two of Moya's sisters were at home at the time of the fire, Perez said.

"Nothing. We weren't able to get anything," Perez said when asked if any personal belongings were salvaged from the fire. "They just ran out."

Two firefighters and a fire policeman were treated at Chambersburg Hospital for heat- and smoke-related problems and more than a dozen more were treated at the scene as firefighters battled high temperatures along with the flames.

When she saw someone being taken away on a gurney Monday, Perez thought it might have been her father, who had worked on remodeling the house for three years.

Product code stickers were still on the fencing he had just put up, Perez said.

"Thank God nobody was lost," she said.

The house was insured and Perez met with an insurance company representative Tuesday afternoon.

"I was proud of my house," she said. "We were very happy with our house."

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