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The Progress Home >> Monday, February 4, 2013 - Fire crews kept busy with weekend calls

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Fire crews kept busy with weekend calls
Monday, February 4, 2013
By Terry Whetstone Staff Writer
IRVONA - Firefighters were busy yesterday in southern Clearfield County after two separate structure fires destroyed a garage and left a young couple homeless.
Irvona Fire Co. was dispatched to 30 Irvin St., Irvona Borough, yesterday at 8:30 p.m. for a structure fire. When Bo Pennington, firefighter/ emergency medical technician, arrived on scene he reported a working fire.
Pennington said when he walked out his front door he could easily see the smoke two blocks away, and as he got closer, he saw the flames.
The home is owned by Tommy Chutko Jr. and Alicia Brink and is occupied by Chutko and Amanda Helsel. Chutko was at home when the fire broke out. He said he lit a kerosene heater to save heating fuel and after lighting it he went outside to burn some garbage. He said he returned about 10 minutes later and found a sweatshirt lying on the heater.
"I tramped it out, then I went next door to call 911," he said. "I don't have a phone. When I got back, it was blazing."
Firefighters had a quick knockdown on the blaze, which summoned six fire companies to the scene.
Chutko said the home is insured.
When asked how he was doing, Chutko was devastated. He said the room that was blazing had a lot of memorabilia that belonged to his mother, Judy. She passed away unexpectedly last year.
He said he was thankful no one was hurt though.
The fire damaged the siding of a nearby home, occupied by Irene Smeal. She was told to leave her home until the fire was out. Her home sustained no other damage.
Dudley Spencer, deputy chief, Irvona Fire Co., said everyone did a great job and the response time was great by everyone involved.
The fire started in a first-floor bedroom and was working into the second floor when fire personnel arrived. No damage estimate is available. The couple is staying with relatives at this time.
Approximately 40 firefighters were on scene from Irvona, Glendale Fire Department of Coalport, Glen Hope, Madera and Westover. Houtzdale Fire Co. was canceled.
Irvona Ambulance was also on scene. There were no reported injuries. Firefighters were on scene about two hours.
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Yesterday at approximately 11 a.m. a garage caught on fire in Woodward Township at 957 Brisbin St. The structure and its contents, owned by Mark Merkey, were a total loss.
Houtzdale Fire Chief Todd Reifer said the cause is being investigated, but damage was high, estimated at $100,000-$150,000.
He said the garage housed a Jeep, John Deere Tractor, two Harley-Davidson motorcycles, a couple all-terrain vehicles and numerous tools.
Reifer said when he arrived on scene he had heavy fire showing. He said there was a good, quick response by all and there were no reported injuries.
About 50 firefighters from Houtzdale, Madera, Ramey, Columbia of Osceola Mills, Glen Hope, Reade Township of Blandburg and Mountain Top of Sandy Ridge were on scene for about 2½ hours.
Hope Fire Co. of Philipsburg was canceled and Glendale Fire Department of Coalport was on standby at Houtzdale.
Houtzdale/Ramey Ambulance was also on scene.
While the garage was on fire an automatic fire alarm came in at 231 Substation Road, Bigler Township.
With many of the companies already out, this call summoned Irvona, Glen Hope, Ramey, Glendale from Houtzdale, Chester Hill and Philipsburg. As firefighters were responding, the alarm company canceled that call.
On Saturday, firefighters were called to 59 Frailey Road, Chest Township, for a possible structure fire.
The homeowner, Carol Gallaher, reported she could smell smoke and see some in her home. Firefighters arrived on scene and John Spacht, lieutenant chief of Irvona Fire Co., held the call to Irvona, Glendale and Westover. Spacht said a ceiling fan in the laundry room was the cause and there was very minor damage to the home and no one was displaced.
Companies canceled include Mahaffey, Madera, Houtzdale, Glen Hope and Curwensville. Irvona Ambulance was also on scene, and there were no injuries.
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