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Couple saved from Monessen house fire

Courtesy photo - Fire crews from around the Mon Valley were called to this house fire on the 400 block of Second Street in Monessen on Sunday, July 14, 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Courtesy photo</em></div>Fire crews from around the Mon Valley were called to this house fire on the 400 block of Second Street in Monessen on Sunday, July 14, 2013.
Jeremy Sellew / The Valley Independent - Seven local fire departments were called to a house fire on the 400 block of Second Street in Monessen on Sunday, July 14, 2013. The house next door also fell victim to the flames.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Jeremy Sellew / The Valley Independent</em></div>Seven local fire departments were called to a house fire on the 400 block of Second Street in Monessen on Sunday, July 14, 2013. The house next door also fell victim to the flames.
Monday, July 15, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

Monessen police were credited with saving the lives of a couple who were asleep while their house was burning early Sunday as a result of a fire that destroyed their neighbor's home.

Chief Delmar Hepple said Monessen police officers awakened Larry and Tammy Jones, who were sleeping at 2:50 a.m. as their house at 415 Second St. was burning around them. The Joneses' home caught fire from a blaze that had engulfed Nakia Merritt's residence at 417 Second St., Hepple said.

“They beat on the Joneses' door and got them up,” Hepple said.

Merritt's house was fully involved when firefighters arrived on the scene, Hepple said. Merritt, a male companion and children living at the residence were not home at the time of the fire, Hepple said.

“It only took a minute to jump to the next house,” Hepple said of the fire that ignited the Joneses' house.

The chief said that police and firefighters were alerted to the overnight blaze by a Knox Avenue resident who had heard a popping sound, which Hepple speculated was the fire breaking through windows or doors.

A state police fire marshal from the Washington barracks is investigating the cause of the fire, which destroyed Merritt's residence and extensively damaged the Joneses' house, Hepple said. Both houses were two-story wooden-framed structures, Hepple said.

The fire at Merritt's residence was so bad that the house collapsed into the foundation, leaving only the chimneys standing, the chief said.

Firefighters were on the scene until about 10 a.m., then returned about noon to extinguish a rekindle of the fire at Merritt's residence, which is owned by Rodney Merritt, father of Nakia, Hepple said.

Both families were assisted by the American Red Cross, which provided rooms at a motel, Hepple said.

Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

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