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Cause of blaze in South Huntingdon under investigation

| Thursday, May 8, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
Evan Sanders | Tribune-Review
Leon Samulski of the Hutchinson Volunteer Fire Department feeds a line to a fellow firefighter while extinguishing hotspots during a fire at 120 Spring St. in South Huntingdon Township on Wednesday, May 7, 2014.
Evan Sanders | Tribune-Review
Leon Samulski of the Hutchinson Volunteer Fire Department extinguishes hotspots during a fire at 120 Spring St. in South Huntingdon Township on Wednesday, May 7, 2014.

A South Huntingdon woman was concerned for her three dogs as she fled from flames that swept through her home near Yukon Wednesday afternoon, a family friend said.

The cause of the fire that destroyed Daniel E. and Christine R. Shellgren's home at 120 Spring St. is under investigation by a state police fire marshal, who inspected the scene on Wednesday, said Yukon fire Chief Gary Moore.

The Shellgrens and their five children lived in the home, but only Christine Shellgren was there when the fire started, Moore said. She was taken to Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg for observation, Moore said.

The fire, which was reported at 1 p.m., appears to have started in a first-floor room, Moore said. Smoke was pouring out of the house and flames had broken through the walls and roof by the time firefighters arrived, he said.

Thick smoke that hung in the air over the house was visible a few miles away along Route 31.

Other South Huntingdon fire companies, as well as units from Fort Allen, Madison, Sutersville and Smithton, were called in to provide additional manpower so crews could be rotated, Moore said. They spent about three hours at the scene.

Cyndi Gongaware, a nearby neighbor and family friend, said she saw that flames had broken through the front window when she drove up to the Shellgrens' house. Gongaware said Christine Shellgren told her that Danielle Shellgren, her husband's daughter, got her out of the house. But Christine Shellgren was worried about the fate of her dogs, all of which escaped unharmed. One dog was taken to a kennel along Spring Street, Gongaware said.

Gongaware said she intended to get Shellgren's medications from the burning house but turned back when burning pieces of the house started to fall around her. Shellgren had been treated at a hospital on Tuesday night, Gongaware said.

The Westmoreland-Armstrong Chapter of the American Red Cross is providing the family with food, clothing and transportation, said Kevin Brown, an American Red Cross spokesman. Brown said the family has a place to stay.

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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