By Robert Stoneback
The Danville News
— DANVILLE – An ember from a wood-burning heater caught part of an East Front Street game room on fire, and sent a teenager to Geisinger Medical Center for smoke inhalation.
Justin Hunter, 16, of Danville, was sent to Geisinger after he and Joe Notargiacomo, 17, of Danville, attempted to control 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 that the smoke aggravated his asthma. Joe was unhurt. The game room is located in a garage on the property of 634 East Front Street.
The fire actually began outside the structure, according to Don Lutz, fire chief for Danville borough. The ember came out of the chimney on the game room’s roof and landed next to an outside wall, lighting it up at around 12:30 p.m.
“I smelled smoke, we came outside and the back corner was on fire,” said Joe.
Two passerbys saw Joe and Justin attempting to put the fire out and pulled over to help them while firefighters drove to the scene. The four of them used snow shovels to try and pry off the wall that had caught fire and also 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 scene 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 that there was about $30,000 worth of equipment in the game room that was saved.
Phil Hunter said he and his wife, Jennifer Shepperson, were insured for damages.
Responding to the scene were East End Fire Company, Danville Fire Department, Danville Ambulance and Danville Police Department.
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