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Duplex fire displaces 2 Cherryhill families

Mary Pickels
| Friday, March 9, 2007

Children playing with a lighter Wednesday caused a fire that displaced two families in Cherryhill Township, Indiana County, authorities said.

No one was injured, and firefighters were able to use oxygen masks to save several family pets.

Cherryhill Township Volunteer Fire Department Chief Jody Rainey said the fire began at 2 p.m. in the back apartment of a duplex in the 1200 block of Chestnut Ridge Road.

The George Willis family was living in the duplex while renovating a top-floor apartment, Rainey said Thursday.

The front duplex apartment was being rented by the Voorhies family, relatives of the Willises, Rainey said.

The duplex housed four adults and six children.

The back apartment, where the fire originated, sustained heavy damage, Rainey said. The front and top residences sustained some heat and smoke damage.

The structure is owned by John Brimmer, of Penn Run.

Rainey estimated structural damage at $20,000 and loss of contents at $5,000.

There was insurance on the home. The families are being assisted by the American Red Cross.

"It definitely can be rebuilt and be livable," Rainey said.

"There were a lot of animals," he said. "We were able to save three dogs, one cat and four birds. They did lose at least three dogs and three cats."

Firefighters used oxygen masks specifically designed for animals. Department Capt. Walt Hudson and his wife, Christine, donated the masks about a year ago, Rainey said. The couple, who are active with the county humane society, donated masks to numerous county fire departments, Rainey said.

"It was the first time we used them," Rainey said. "We were pretty happy to see them be successful. Lots of people look at pets as another family member."

Firefighters from Cherryhill, Indiana No. 2, and tankers from Clymer and Pine Township were on the scene for about two hours.

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