Fire of undetermined origin heavily damaged a two-story house and claimed the life of a family pet in Indiana’s Second Ward early Sunday.
The fire started on the back of a house at 650 Maple St. and was reported to Indiana County 911 at 12:52 a.m. The house is a wood-frame structure owned by Kenneth and Nancy Robinson, who lived there the past 38 years, said Indiana Fire Chief Charles R. Kelly.
Kelly said the Robinsons fled from their second-floor bedroom and were rescued from the roof of their porch.
The Robinsons were unharmed and members of four fire departments all escaped injury, but a dog died during the fire, the chief said.
[See video of scene here.]
Because of Indiana University of Pennsylvania homecoming weekend activities, Kelly said, several firefighters had been spending the evening at the Water Street fire station.
But due to extremely heavy pedestrian traffic along the firefighters’ route, the South Seventh Street fraternity row, the minutes saved by being at the station were critical.
“They got on the road quickly — very quickly,” Kelly said. “That was a big plus for us.”
Firefighters knocked down the flames visible at the back of the Robinsons’ house within minutes of arriving, then checked to make sure fire had not spread inside the house.
The combination of fire, heat and smoke throughout the house rendered it unlivable, Kelly said. The heat melted some of the siding of a detached garage, but firefighters prevented damage to a neighboring house to the east.
Carpenter Avenue runs along the west side of the house.
Kelly said the Robinsons had insurance to cover the loss, and that American Red Cross representatives helped to arrange for accommodations and other emergency needs.
The chief said he planned to contact the state police to investigate the cause of the fire.
The Cherryhill Township, Homer City and Coral-Graceton fire departments assisted at the scene, while the Clymer fire department served on standby in the Indiana fire station.
According to the county 911 website, the Black Lick, Brush Valley and Marion Center fire departments also served standby assignments at the Coral-Graceton, Homer City and Clymer fire stations.
Crews left the scene shortly after 3 a.m., Kelly said.