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Fire hits empty house in Rayburn

| Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Josh Barden with Kittanning Hose 1 climbs a ladder to begin knocking down a fire on Friday, Feb. 15, 2013, along River Road in Rayburn. Jan Pakler I for The Leader Times
Fire departments responded to a structure fire along River Road in Rayburn on Friday, Feb. 15, 2013. Jan Pakler I for the Leader Times

RAYBURN — Nobody was hurt when fire tore through an empty two-story house being renovated along River Road around 3 p.m. Friday. Crews from Kittanning Hose Cos. 1, 4 and 6, Rayburn, Pine Township and Kittanning Township fire departments battled the blaze that continued smoldering for some time after.

Owner Alan Rosselle of Apollo said he bought the house along with several others around it about three years ago and had been in the process of renovating it. He said his 24-year-old son had been staying at the house on occasion during construction and had possessions inside.

“We put so much work into that house,” said Rosselle, looking on in disbelief.

“We had been working in there earlier in the day, but luckily nobody was home when it started.”

Kittanning Hose Co. 1 firefighter Josh Barden, who was among the first on the scene, said he arrived to see the house engulfed in flames.

“Flames were shooting out of the windows and started coming through holes in the side of the building,” he said. “We had to start busting windows right away to get some ventilation. It fried the staircase inside and the floors became very unstable from all the water.”

Rayburn Township Fire Chief Hen Bellas said the fire marshal will take a look at the house early next week but that the blaze doesn't appear suspicious.

“Looks like the (owner) was just doing work inside,” said Bellas. “They had a torpedo heater, but he said it hadn't been running. He also had an oil tank on the side of the house, but we're not sure if that had anything to do with it. The cause is still unknown.”

Bellas said the fire likely started downstairs and quickly spread. Authorities said no other structures were jeopardized by the fire, but River Road was closed in both directions as crews worked into the evening.

Tim Karan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303 or tkaran@tribweb.com.

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