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Fire destroys vacant home

| Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2005

MONESSEN - Fire officials were still trying to determine the cause of an early-morning blaze that gutted an empty home on the 300 block of Schoonmaker Avenue today.

Monessen Municipal Fire Chief Tim Billick said the alarm for the blaze came in at 1:47 a.m. and that, when firefighters arrived, they found the structure located at 320 Schoonmaker Ave. fully engulfed.

"It took us about a half hour to get it under control and about 1 1/2 hours to get it out," said Billick, who noted that six fire companies responded to the fire and that the state police fire marshal was on the scene by 3 a.m.

"At this time, the fire marshal has yet to determine what caused the fire or the origin of it," he added.

Billick said the house did not have anyone living in it at the time of the blaze and that officials are still trying to determine who owns the structure.

The fire chief said that the home was "destroyed" by the fire.

The building is located next to the Salvation Army, 302 Schoonmaker Ave., but Capt. Michael Jung said that his building was never threatened by the fire.

"The only problem we have now is that we have no running water or heat," Jung said this morning. "The fire will not affect our operations at all."

The lack of water was caused by a water main break that occurred outside the burning home while firefighters were battling the blaze.

"I noticed water coming up from the street while we were fighting the fire," Billick said. "Fortunately, we didn't lose any water pressure and our efforts were not hampered."

Crews from the Authority of the Borough of Charleroi were on the scene this morning working to correct the problem. Water was still coming up from the street and the sidewalk across the street from the site of the fire at mid-morning.

Billick said that during the fire there was some concern that the home on the other side of the burning structure could be affected by the blaze.

"We evacuated that home, but we were able to stop the fire from spreading," Billick said. "That home was not affected at all."

Billick said that there were no injuries resulting from the fire.

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