By Robert Stoneback
The Daily Item
— DANVILLE — An ember from a wood-burning heater caught part of an East Front Street game room on fire Tuesday, sending a teenager to Geisinger Medical Center with smoke inhalation.
Justin Hunter, 16, of Danville, was sent to Geisinger after he and Joe Notargiacomo, 17, of Danville, attempted to put out the fire before firefighters arrived. They were both in the game room playing pool when the fire started. Phil Hunter, Justin’s father and the owner of the property, expects his son to recover, saying the smoke aggravated his asthma. Notargiacomo was unhurt. The game room is in a garage on the property at 634 E. Front St.
The fire actually began outside the structure, according to Don Lutz, Danville fire chief. The ember came out of the chimney on the game room’s roof and landed next to an outside wall at around 12:30 p.m.
“I smelled smoke, we came outside and the back corner was on fire,” Notargiacomo said.
Two passers-by saw the teens attempting to extinguish the fire and pulled over to help while firefighters were on their way. The four of them used snow shovels to pry off the wall that had caught fire and threw snow on the fire in an attempt to put it out.
The two strangers left the scene after firefighters arrived and before Joe and Justin could learn their names. Joe and Phil Hunter wanted to thank them for their assistance.
Once firefighters arrived, they had the fire under control in a matter of minutes, Lutz said. They cut off the part of the wall that was on fire and then checked the roof to ensure the flames had not spread.
Lutz estimated the damage to be between $12,000 and $15,000, but said there was about $30,000 worth of equipment in the game room that was saved. Phil Hunter said he and his wife, Jennifer Shepperson, have insurance on the property.
Responding to the scene were East End Fire Company, Danville Fire Department, Danville Ambulance and Danville Police Department.