WAYNE TOWNSHIP – A late night fire Sunday left a Cochranton area woman and her family homeless and no idea where she will find housing.
The fire, which destroyed the home of Sandy Smith at 26352 Stitzerville Road, Cochranton, was ruled accidental by a Pennsylvania State Police fire marshal Monday.
The marshal was called to investigate the cause by Cochranton Volunteer Fire Department Chief Scott Schell, who said he believed the fire started in the front room of the structure.
Smith said late Monday afternoon the fire started in a wood stove in the wooden addition to a mobile home.
Smith said Tuesday she had no insurance, adding the insurance companies require ownership to insure it, noting she just received the title to the trailer last month.
“My priority this week was to get insurance,” she said, noting now it is too late.
The fire was the latest problem for Smith, who was laid off from her job at Ross Trucking in November. “November wasn’t a very good month and December isn’t any better,” she said, noting her daughter just had a miscarriage last week.
The fire left Smith, her daughter, Karla, 23; and Donald Greenlee, who lived in the residence, homeless. A dog, who had left the house, perished in the fire after it went back into the blaze.
The three “made it out with what they were wearing. That was it. They lost everything,” Schell said, noting the three were in night clothes when they fled the burning structure.
In addition to the home, all its furnishings and all the family’s clothing, Smith said she also lost all the Christmas gifts she had already purchased.
“We ran out with no shoes, no coat, no nothing. The Red Cross got me a pair of boots and clothes,” she said.
The Red Cross has put the family up at the Days Inn temporarily — which is standard practice for people displaced in a fire.
The snow and cold weather conditions Sunday night caused a lot of problems for the seven volunteer fire departments responding to the scene, Schell said. “It was terrible,” he said. “Almost every firetruck was stuck at one time,” he added.
That caused problems for water supply for firefighters, Schell said. “We had a tanker shuttle,” he said, explaining the process of how water is supplied via tanker trucks. With trucks not being able to get up the hill to the scene, it was difficult to provide continued water supply to fight the fire.
Schell said a lot of firefighters responded to the scene with 37 from Cochranton alone.
Assisting Cochranton were volunteers from West Mead 1, Greenwood, Vernon Township, Utica, Randolph and East Mead departments. They were dispatched at 9:50 p.m. Sunday and returned to quarters at 1:38 a.m. Monday.
Jane Smith can be reached at 724-6370 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org