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Blaze ravages South Huntingdon home

| Tuesday, July 22, 2014, 11:39 p.m.
Evan Sanders | TRIB TOTAL MEDIA
A volunteer firefighter with Rillton Volunteer Fire Department awaits water from tanker trucks as crews work to extinguish a house fire at 641 Bells Mills Road in West Newton on Tuesday, July 22, 2014. No further information was available on scene.
Evan Sanders | TRIB TOTAL MEDIA
Volunteer firefighters with Sutersville and Rillton Volunteer Fire Departments work to extinguish a house fire at 641 Bells Mills Road in West Newton on Tuesday, July 22, 2014. No further information was available on scene.

The sound of a smoke detector may have saved a South Huntingdon's man life on Tuesday afternoon when it alerted him to a fire that started in the basement of his family's home .

The fire spread to the first floor, eventually destroying the house despite efforts by fire companies.

Jake Painter of 641 Bells Mill Road, said he was alone in the house, sleeping in the afternoon before going to work that night, when he was awakened by the smoke detector. Painter said he saw smoke rising from the rear of the house when he ran outside. He saw the flames when he got outside.

The flames broke through the roof of the wood-framed modular house, which is owned by Daniel H. Painter and home to him and his sons, Jake and Dan, and daughter, Jennifer. The family said it will stay with relatives in the area.

Yukon fire Chief Gary Moore said he believes the fire, which was reported at 3:13 p.m., started in the rear of the basement. Firefighters had the blaze knocked down within the first 20 minutes, Moore said, but a flashover occurred and the fire rekindled. Moore said he was not certain what was inside the house that might have provided fuel for the fire.

A state police fire marshal will be called to investigate, Moore said.

The family's dog escaped the flames, but two cats died in the fire. Rescue personnel tried to resuscitate one of the cats, Moore said.

As the fire raged, Jake Painter said he attempted to knock down the front door to let the animals flee.

Firefighters from a dozen companies had to battle the heat as well as the fire. A Collinsburg firefighter was transported to Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg for treatment of heat exhaustion and was reported in stable condition, said Moore, who did not know the firefighter's name.

Tanker trucks from Yukon and several neighboring companies had to shuttle water to fight the fire, because there is no fire hydrant close to that section of Bells Mill Road. The tanker trucks provided a sufficient amount of water to fight the fire, Moore said.

Firefighters set up a dump tank on Bells Mill Road to hold water that was being pumped to fire trucks.

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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