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Community lends hand to Ford City fire victims

Louis B. Ruediger | Leader Times
Carolyn Piper, resident of an apartment at 634 Fourth Ave., Ford City, finds a case with valuable family inforamtion among the charred remains after a Monday night blaze that damaged the duplex. Wednesday November 20, 2013

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Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

FORD CITY — An outpouring of community support for two families displaced by a fire on Monday at a duplex on Fourth Avenue continues unabated.

The duplex, owned by Carl Waugaman, was rented on one side to Carolyn Piper, who lived at number 634 with her 17-year-old and 20-year-old sons.

Alysia Petak rented the section next door at 636, where she lived with her three children, Josh, 13, Jennifer, 12, and Hayden, 10.

Both families managed to escape uninjured from the burning building, but almost all of their belongings were consumed by fire or suffered severe water and smoke damage.

Christina and Kelly Jordan of 734 Main St. opened their home to the Petak family, where clothes, food, blankets and shoes have been piling up, thanks to an outpouring from area residents.

Christina said she didn't think twice about asking the Petaks to join their household of 10.

“Everybody has plenty of food,” she said.

She said her home and the Manor Township Municipal Building are drop-off locations for donated items for the two displaced families.

“Everybody's been great with donations,” Christina said.

“We're getting a list compiled (of needed items),” she said.

The Jordans are in communication with a contact point for the Piper family. Christina said the Pipers and Petaks could each benefit from a donated storage unit since there is no available space right now to store furniture or larger household items recently given to the families.

Alysia Petak lost all of her forms of identification in the fire, Christina said, adding that Alysia believes the fire started in a baseboard heater in the attic and not in the basement as she had suggested in Tuesday's news coverage of the fire.

Ford City Fire Marshal Ron Wojcik confirmed on Tuesday that the fire originated in the attic at the 636 side of the duplex.

The cause of the fire is still undetermined and remains under investigation, Wojcik said.

Christina said she has been touched by the generosity of the community and the selfless nature of the Petaks.

“This family is more concerned about their neighbors' needs,” Christina said.

Christina noted that those who wish to donate items might want to consider electronic gaming equipment and video games that can be traded at a store such as Game Stop.

The games would mean a lot to Josh Petak, who has Asperger syndrome, Christina said, adding that the boy tried to go back into the burning building to get his games.

And since Alysia did not have a bank account and is now without any form of ID, people might want to consider donating Visa gift cards for her, Christina said.

The Petaks and Pipers did not have renters insurance.

Waugaman, the owner of the building, said on Tuesday that he was grateful no one was hurt.

“Nobody got hurt. The adjacent home was not affected, so I'm thankful for that,” he said.

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

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