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No one hurt in Kittanning house fire

| Friday, Feb. 26, 2010

KITTANNING — No one was home when a slow burning fire heavily damaged a North Grant Avenue home early Thursday afternoon.

Fire investigators said the fire, at 1118 N. Grant Ave., probably smoldered for several hours before the flames began spreading through the two-story wood frame house.

Fire crews from all three Kittanning companies, along with Rayburn, West Kittanning and Ford City, were called to the scene at 1:37 p.m. after a neighbor reported seeing smoke coming from a window of the house.

Kittanning Fire Marshal Earl "Buzz" Kline said the fire is believed to have started in the basement of the home and had contacted the state police fire marshal to assist in determining the exact cause.

"We believe the point of origin is a ventless heater that was located in the basement next to the staircase," he said. "What sparked the fire is still under investigation. There were some clothes on the floor near the heater, so we don't know if someone might have dropped something on the heater or something fell against it."

Kline said he believes the fire was accidental in nature and is awaiting findings of the fire marshal to confirm the cause.

The homeowners, John Picardi and Amanda Heilman, had left the house about two hours before firefighters were alerted, Kline said. Two children living in the home, Gage Willis, 10, and Morgan Walker, 7, were both in school at the time of the fire, he said.

Kline said the house sustained about $75,000 in damage, due to the intense heat, fire and smoke. The house also sustained structural damage to the staircase, floor and a wall.

"The crews did a great job, knocking down the fire quickly," Kline said. "A few more minutes and I think the whole house would have been a fireball."

Kline said crews used only about 1,000 gallons of water to extinguish the fire.

"They were able to get in and put the bulk of the fire out with just the 500 gallons in the (fire truck's) tank," he said. "The rest was used to douse any hotspots that were left."

Kline said no injuries were reported and fire crews experienced no delays or problems in battling the blaze. Crews remained on scene for about 2 hours.

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