Fire destroys Washington Township home
A Washington Township homeowner and his wife are staying with relatives because a fire destroyed their house early Tuesday.
No one was injured despite the fire and dangerous weather that the victims and firefighters had to endure.
The house at 5286 Beech Road was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived at about 1:30 a.m.
The unidentified home-owner was able to get out. His wife was at an older relative's house in the township when the fire broke out, Washington Township fire Chief Dan Black said.
The fire may have started in a crawl space, but firefighters aren't sure. “We may never determine a cause because of the extensive damage,” Black said.
He said about 50 volunteer firefighters from five departments battled the flames in sub-zero temperatures. In addition to Washington Township and Murrysville, volunteers came from White Valley, Export, Upper Burrell and Slickville.
Black at first though tanker trucks would be needed, but the volunteers were able to stretch enough hose to reach a fire hydrant on top of a nearby hill.
Nevertheless, each of the volunteers had to contend with the subzero temperatures and stiff wind that bit through protective gear to threaten them with frostbite or hypothermia, dangerously low body temperature caused by prolonged exposure to the cold.
Ice also was a hazard for firefighters, but a township road crew spread salt and ashes at the fire scene. No injuries from a fall were reported.
“They are the ones that do all the work,” said public works director Rick Huffman about firefighters. “We just help when we can.”
There were five fires across Westmoreland County on Monday night into Tuesday, said Dan Stevens, deputy emergency services coordinator. He said no one was reported injured from slipping.
Cold weather blazes pose other problems for firefighters and their equipment. Perspiration is often wicked to outer garments and that moisture can freeze when a firefighter turns away from the heat. “It's hot holding a hose on the fire,” Black said. “But when you turn around to take a break, the coats freeze up right away.”
Beech Road firefighters and rescue crews were prepared. Firefighters took turns alternating between dousing the fire and stepping into a warming tent supplied by Murrysville Emergency Medical Services.
When the fire was out, crews found it tough to roll up fire hoses coated with ice.
“Both of our trucks were pretty well frozen up, too,” Black said.
When firefighters returned to their stations, it took several hours to thaw the hose and trucks and prepare them for the next call, he said.
Chuck Biedka is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4711 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Homemade hockey rink popular in Lower Burrell
- Burrell honors sports heavyweight Butch Liput with scholarship
- New Kensington woman struck by vehicle, injured
- Saxonburg Area Artists Cooperative closes its doors
- Alle-Kiski Valley deemed medically underserved
- Pittsburgh Street in Springdale closed until Monday
- January temperatures, snowfall unremarkable in Western Pennsylvania
- Rural residents need medical specialist services
- Burrell wrestling wins 9th consecutive WPIAL title
- Springdale trestle bridge deemed structurally sound
- Winfield man is one of a few to attend all 49 Super Bowl games