ShareThis Page

Fairfield family loses fight to save their home from fire

| Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, 12:07 a.m.
Surrounded by neighbors, Ronald Penrose, 59, pets his dog, Emma, as he watches firefighters battle a blaze at his home along Route 259 in Fairfield Twp. on Jan. 30, 2013. The home, where the Penrose family has lived for more than 20 years, was destroyed. Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review
Firefighters battle a blaze at the home of Ronald Penrose, 59, along Route 259 in Fairfield Township on Jan. 30, 2013. The house was destroyed, but Penrose, his family and pets escaped without injury. Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review

A Fairfield family filled pots and pans with water to fight the flames but lost their home to a fire that broke out early Wednesday morning.

The Penrose family, all of whom escaped unharmed, looked on as their house, at 1367 Route 259, was ravaged by fire.

Fairfield fire Chief Kevin Stiffler said most of the one-story stone house was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived and was a total loss.

“I guess we'll just knock it down and start over,” homeowner Ronald Penrose said. “I'm down, but I'm not out.”

Penrose, 59, said he was awakened by the smell of smoke about 6 a.m. Wednesday. When he opened the bedroom door, he could see flames at the east end of the stone house where an addition was under construction.

“I just grabbed (my wife), lifted her up and went,” he said.

Penrose's wife, Barb, 60, has osteoporosis and other health problems and cannot walk, Penrose said. Her wheelchair was destroyed.

Penrose ran back into the house to join his son, Ross, 22, in trying to save the home where they have lived for more than 20 years.

“My dad was filling up pots and pans with water, and I was running them back and forth to the spare room,” Ross Penrose said, brushing a handful of ashes from his hair. “But it just spread too quick. There was nothing we could do.”

At that point, Ronald Penrose said, he got his son and their dog, Emma, out of the house.

By 8:30 a.m., firefighters were hosing down hot spots in the charred remains of the building. No personal belongings could be salvaged, Ronald Penrose said.

“All I have is what I got on,” he said pointing to his boots, shirt and sweatpants. “I can't even get inside my truck because my keys were in the house. My wife's brand-new wheelchair was inside. That's gone. Everything's gone.”

Stiffler said the home was insured.

A state police fire marshal will investigate the cause of the fire, which started in the addition, Stiffler said. The new room was intended to be a sitting room for Barb Penrose, her son said.

Stiffler said fires are especially difficult to fight in the rural township, where there is no public water supply. The Penrose home is located about halfway between Bolivar and Ligonier Township.

“It took us a little while to get a consistent water supply,” Stiffler said.

More than 10 fire companies responded to the call. Several refilled their tankers at Hypocrite Creek, more than a mile from the blaze.

The Penroses will stay with family members.

Jewels Phraner is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-1218 or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using 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.