Volunteer firefighters from the Gilbertsville Fire and Rescue Company were called to scene of a fire around 7:50 a.m. Tuesday that destroyed a split-level home at 21 Oak Street in Douglass Township.
According to Gilbertsville Assistant Chief Andrew Duncan, the fire was spotted by a neighbor who alerted a resident inside the home and evacuated safely.
Firefighters arrived quickly and Duncan said that upon arrival they found the structure “engulfed in flames in the rear of the building, behind the garage and the utility room.” He added that the fire quickly extended up the wall to a second-floor bedroom and into the attic where the fire spread to the roof. An added danger to firefighters was the report of acetylene tanks in the garage. At the height of the fire, flames shot more than 25 feet above the building into the morning sky.
Water wasn’t a problem as firefighters were able to lay a large diameter hoseline to a hydrant less than 500 feet from the burning building. Firefighters were on the scene for nearly five hours as they initially battled the blaze from inside the building using 3, 1-3/4” hand-held hose lines, but when the fire spread they were forced to evacuate from inside the building and resorted to an exterior attack utilizing an aerial truck and master stream to deluge the fire.
Gilbertsville Fire and Rescue Chief and Douglass Township Fire Marshal Rick Smith, along with investigators from the Pa. State Police Fire Marshall’s and the Montgomery Country Detective’s offices, determined that the cause of the fire was electrical in nature and accidental. It started near a woodburning stove in the rear of the dwelling. Damage was estimated to be at least $200,000. According to Montgomery County property records, the property is owned by Gary Evans.
There were no injuries reported and Duncan said that he was “very happy with the way all of the firefighters worked well together.”
Assisting at the scene were units from New Hanover, Western Berks Regional, Friendship Hook and Ladder and Keystone from Boyertown, Ringing Hill, Pennsburg, Limerick and Sassmanville fire companies. A unit from Pottstown Fire Company was on standby for New Hanover.
An emergency medical service unit from Gilbertsville Area Community Ambulance Service and a canteen unit from the Salvation Army also assisted at the scene. Volunteers from the American Red Cross were assisting the victims.
Fire police closed Swamp Pike from Middle Creek Road to Route 73 until about 10:30 a.m.