WAMPUM, Pa. (WKBN) – A fire chased a family from one home and damaged another house Monday morning in Wampum, Pennsylvania.
Firefighters from eleven different departments came to put out the fire, which started around 7:40 a.m. Monday at a house in the 200 block of Kay St. The fire severely damaged one occupied home and one vacant house on the street, burning off the roofs of both structures.
Terri Guy lives across the street and said he was awakened by an explosion.
“We heard an explosion-type noise. I ran down and looked out. The house across the street was on fire,” Guy said.
June Locke and her son John got out of the house safely, while the flames and heavy smoke quickly engulfed both structures.
“Once the roof collapsed on the second floor, there was no way we could make entry safely. We basically fought it from outside,” said Wampum Fire Department Chief Charlie Kelly.
A hydrant sat just across the street from the fire, but because of some ongoing improvements to the borough’s water system, there wasn’t enough pressure to fight the blaze.
“Arrangement were already made with the 911 center. Everything went off without a hitch,” Kelly said.
Most of fire departments called to help used their tankers to truck water from another hydrant about a mile away to keep a drafting pool filled. Kelly said he and his crews started practicing for situations like Monday’s fire month’s before the water line project started.
With both houses destroyed, neighbors and the Red Cross were providing help to the Lockes. June Locke has breathing problems and uses oxygen.
“I’ve seen her a couple of times come outside. It is hard for her to get around. I feel sorry for her and for this to happen,” said Joyce Hackett, neighbor. “It breaks your heart to see somebody lose their house like that. I feel very sorry for them.”
Fire fighters will remained on the scene Monday to knock down the top half of the structure so it doesn’t collapse on its own.
The state fire marshal is investigating but has not yet determined a cause.