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Kittanning house fire leaves 'very extensive damage'

| Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013, 11:36 p.m.
Louis B. Ruediger | Leader Times
Kittanning Hose Co. 6 Fire Chief Scott Kline vents the roof of a home on Union Avenue, Tuesday September 3, 2013 while attempting to control a fire that is believed to have started on an upper floor.

Richard Hoculock and his two dogs escaped uninjured when a fire tore through the upper levels of a three-story brick home where he was living at 407 Union Ave. on Tuesday afternoon.

He said he had been watching TV when he smelled the smoke.

“I grabbed both dogs and got them out of the house,” said Hoculock, who appeared shaken as he used a cellphone to call his fiancee, Lisa Hill.

Hill owns the home and was at work when the fire started, Hoculock said.

“I don't know what we're going to do,” he said, while attempting to comfort his dog, Brat. The couple's other dog, Oreo, had to remain in Hoculock's red pickup because of its tendency to bite strangers, he said.

Neighbors and passersby lined Union Avenue and nearby alleys as volunteer firefighters worked to quench the flames.

Kathy Toy, who lives next door, called 911 around 1:30 p.m. when she heard Hoculock yell.

“There was smoke everywhere,” Toy said.

She said she saw flames shooting out of the second level of the home in the vicinity of a refrigerator.

Hoculock said he and Hill had been remodeling the third story to rent out. The building was insured, he said, but he was worried that the policy wasn't going to cover the extent of property loss.

Although the cause was still under investigation Tuesday, the fire appeared to have originated on the second floor, said Kittanning Fire Marshal Earl “Buzz” Kline.

The house sustained “very extensive damage,” he said.

Kittanning Hose Cos. 1, 4 and 6 and West Kittanning, Rayburn and Ford City fire departments assisted at the scene.

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or bbeatty@tribweb.com.

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