| Neighborhoods

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Timing right for firefighter to get woman, 84, out of burning house

Jim Ference | The Valley Independent
Firefighters from Bentleyville remove their gear after battling an attic fire at this house on 5th street in Charleroi on Tuesday, July 22, 2014.

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Daily Photo Galleries

Wednesday, July 23, 2014, 4:12 p.m.

An elderly Charleroi woman who was unaware her house was burning Tuesday afternoon, escaped quickly and unharmed, thanks to a bit of luck.

Doug Prentice Sr., the Charleroi Volunteer Fire Department's second assistant chief, was walking his dogs around 4 p.m. when he smelled smoke.

Prentice got into his car and found the source of the odor: the 804 Fifth St. residence of Lorraine Brown, 84.

“As soon as I got there, there was a brownish-white smoke coming from the roof,” Prentice said. “I radioed 911, then started banging on the door to see if she was there, because I knew she has been there for a good many years.

“Then I ran around to the front and started banging on that door.”

Prentice said Brown, who was upstairs when he arrived, finally emerged from a rear door that faces Blythe Way. Firefighters arrived soon after and were able to douse the attic fire by using two large hoses.

“I said, ‘You need to get out of here because your house is on fire,'” Prentice said. “She had smelled the smoke, but she thought it was coming from the outside, that someone was burning something.

“When I went into the house, there was no evidence that there was a fire because everything was up in the attic and roof.”

Brown's daughter, Jodi Shuback, said her mother was physically fine but shaken up. Shuback said her mother has lived in the residence for 49 years.

Prentice said the fire appeared to be electrical in nature and the flames were contained to the inside of the attic walls. From ground level, a hole through a portion of the roof was visible through the front upstairs window.

“There was a lot of insulation we had to go through. That was the worst part because that stuff just smolders,” Prentice said. “There were wires where the fire was at, but that's not our expertise. The state police fire marshal will verify the findings (Wednesday).”

No firefighters required treatment despite the 90-degree heat.

The Charleroi, Lock Four and Stockdale fire departments responded to the fire. Charleroi Regional Police, the Bentleyville Rapid Intervention Unit and Mon Valley Emergency Medical Services also responded.

Prentice said he was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time.

“I guess it worked out OK. If that would've happened later at night ... I don't know,” Prentice said. “Timing is everything.”

Rick Bruni Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 724-684-2635.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.



Show commenting policy

Most-Read Mon Valley

  1. Youngwood man’s crash knocks out power in Monessen
  2. California woman’s tale of Army Reserve service told in Sen. McCain’s book
  3. Ringgold students earn Westinghouse science honor
  4. Trial to begin Monday in Rostraver home invasion
  5. Benefit 5K race, bike run planned for Mon Valley
  6. Man with Donora roots promoted to Air Force colonel
  7. Charleroi students call on creativity at Camp Invention
  8. California, Pa. native John Messana hit high notes in opera, culinary roles
  9. Charleroi man charged in pizza shop burglaries
  10. Carroll woman accused of prescription drug scheme
  11. Past newsmakers plentiful in journey down Memory Lane