Brother, sister escape fire, but Murrysville home severely damaged

Chuck Biedka
| Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013, 11:48 a.m.

Flames forced a retiree and his sister from their Murrysville home Monday afternoon.

R. Carl “Bud” Patty was treated for a hand injury, and his sister, no name available, also was checked at an area hospital even as the thick, black and gray smoke column towered more than 100 feet into the frigid air.

Their beagle-mix, Snoopy, was being checked by a vet Monday night, too.

Murrysville fire Chief Al Dover said that house at 4199 Logan Ferry Road was destroyed. A state police deputy fire marshal was scheduled on Tuesday to investigate the fire's cause.

A damage estimate wasn't available.

The fire broke out at about 3:20 p.m. It took about two hours to extinguish, and crews spent several more hours there in an attempt to prevent the rubble from rekindling.

Logan Ferry Road was blocked well into Monday night.

Firefighters were called back to the scene shortly after 10:30 p.m.

Soon after the fire started, small explosions were reported when ammunition cooked off inside the house.

“There was no natural gas explosion,” Dover said.

Firefighters from seven companies had to lay nearly a half-mile of hose to deliver water from a hydrant to the house. They also used tanker trucks.

The volunteers were hampered for a while by a live electrical wire that fell from a transformer.

Then there was the snow and ice, along with temperatures that started at about 20 degrees and dipped much colder after sunset.

“Once the power line was down, we could move in safely to reach the house. Sadly, it's probably going to be a total loss,” Dover said. “But the people didn't receive serious injuries, and no firefighters have been hurt,” he said at about 6 p.m.

Karen Tribou, owner of the nearby Plumline Nurseries, said she didn't hear any explosions.

“I just heard sirens, and I'm relieved that they're OK,” she said, about Patty and his sister. “They are really nice people who have lived here a long time.”

She said Patty is a retired postal employee.Even after Patty and his sister were taken to a hospital just after 4 p.m., Snoopy ran up and down the ice-slicked driveway and refused to walk to firefighters. After about 90 minutes, the shivering dog was eventually caught and brought up the hill in a sled-like rescue basket pulled by Plum ambulance personnel.

An EMT comforted the dog as she was put in an ambulance to be warmed before she was taken to a veterinarian hospital to be checked.

The hydrant hose was turned off at about 5:30 p.m. and volunteer firefighters from numerous companies started the arduous task of rolling up more than 1,000 feet of fire hose before returning them to their respective fire house to dry out.

“We'll have a late night,” said Monroeville No. 5 deputy Chief G. Fred Gerstacker.

Chuck Biedka is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4711 or

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