Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Fire guts two mobile homes, leaving six people homeless

by and on January 09, 2014 11:00 AM

PINE TOWNSHIP — A faulty furnace sparked a fire that raced through a mobile home and jumped to another nearby, destroying both, late Wednesday morning near Alverda.

Volunteers from 10 fire departments battled the flames while the six residents fled their homes in single-digit temperatures. No one was injured, officials said.

[PHOTO: Firefighters battled a blaze Wednesday that destroyed two mobile homes in Pine Township. (Tom Peel/Gazette)]

Pine Township Fire Department Chief Keith Muir said Walter and Sharon Gibbons owned both of the homes. They lived in one with their three children, and Sharon Gibbons’ brother, Gary Jones, lived in the other.

Muir said the mobile homes were among several in a group along Route 553, about one-half mile from Alverda.

The two that burned were about 15 feet apart. None of the others were damaged.

The Pine Township, Commodore, Cherryhill Township and Clymer fire companies answered the first call for help at 11:47 a.m., and Muir called for assistance due to the cold conditions and to assure they would have enough water.

The Marion Center, Plumville, Nicktown, Vintondale, Nanty Glo and Hope fire departments helped at the scene, while the Rossiter, Indiana and Brush Valley fire departments answered standby assignments.

“We had the Citizens’ Ambulance Service rehab trailer brought in for heat, and obviously, with all the companies I pulled in, we were trying to rotate everybody in and out,” Muir said. “Teams of firefighters worked a rotation and they had to get warmed up.

“I was playing it safe and put a lot of tankers on the road. And for the time of day, we actually had a lot of manpower.”

Disaster service representatives of the American Red Cross assisted the residents with their immediate emergency needs.

Chauncey Ross is the Gazette’s fixture at Indiana Area and Homer-Center school board meetings, has been seen with pen and notepad in area police stations and courts, and is something of an Open Records Act and Sunshine Law advocate. He also manages the Gazette’s websites and answers your questions about them.

Chief Photographer Tom Peel has been photographing events in the county since 1966. He started with the Gazette while in high school and then came on board full-time in 1969. So if you do something good, bad or just interesting, he will most likely be there to take your picture. Tom can be reached at or 724-465-5555 ext. 275.
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