The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

December 31, 2012

Man breaks window to escape house fire in Montour County

By Karen Blackledge
The Danville News

— WASHINGTONVILLE – A man was left homeless when fire destroyed the house he was renting Sunday night.

The two-story farmhouse, at 2194 Washingtonville Road in Derry Township, was fully engulfed when firefighters arrived, said Jim Roberts, assistant chief of the Washingtonville Fire Company.

Roberts did not have the name of the man who was home at the time.

The man was sleeping in the back part of the house at the time but was able to flee through the front door.

“He was able to escape and got out with a few cuts on his hand. He had trouble getting the door open and had to break the window,” he said of the tenant who lost all his possessions.

Someone took him to the hospital to have his hand bandaged.

Roberts said the house, which was later demolished, was a total loss. He hasn’t estimated the damage to the property owned by Gary Aurand of Diehl Road in the Danville area.

Robert said the fire is believed to be accidental and to have started in the area of a wood burner. He wasn’t sure if the blaze started in the chimney area.

The tenant had no renter’s insurance. Aurand had insurance on the structure.

A state police fire marshal is not expected to investigate.

Fire officials ordered the demolition by Matt Betz Excavating for safety reasons. “We had to have it pulled down so we could finish extinguishing the fire. It was too shaky to get into,” Roberts said.

The 60 to 70 Firefighters were hampered most by the cold. “That limited our availability to water sources,” he said of the water they hauled from Montour PPL Plant hydrants about two miles away.

He said the Red Cross wasn’t notified with the property owner saying he would assist the tenant.

Aurand was assisting the tenant in finding a place to stay, Roberts said.

Firefighters remained at the scene until 2:30 a.m. Monday.

Besides the Washingtonville company, firefighters responded from Valley Township, Liberty Township, Danville and East End in Mahoning Township. Also summoned were companies from Union and Columbia counties. A Danville ambulance responded.