3 Pa. FFs burned during house fire

A gust of air caused the fire to swell when firefighters opened the attic door, knocking one firefighter to the ground


By David Hurst
The Tribune-Democrat, Johnstown, Pa.

WESTMONT BOROUGH, Pa. — Three West Hills firefighters were treated for burns sustained battling a St. Clair Road house fire early Monday in Westmont Borough, responders said.

According to West Hills Regional Fire Chief Robert Tauber, crews arrived on scene just before 1 a.m. to find flames emitting from the back of the St. Clair Road home.

While one team worked outside, Tauber said another group of firefighters carried a line inside to battle the blaze on the second floor.

But when they opened the attic door, it introduced a gust of air into the area that caused the fire to swell -- creating a fiery force that knocked one firefighter to the ground, he said.

Three of them sustained first- and second-degree burns to their ears and necks and were treated on scene by emergency medical responders, Tauber said.

The homeowners were able to escape the blaze before crews arrived and called 911 for help, he said.

Thirteen fire departments were dispatched to the fire, including Southmont, Johnstown and Richland.

Middle Taylor, West Taylor, Franklin, Jerome, Cover Hill, Seward, Armagh and Waterford also were sent to the multi-alarm blaze, Cambria County 911 officials said.

As of 10 a.m. Monday, a state police fire marshal from Ebensburg was at the scene working to determine the cause of the fire.

The group spent 3 1/2 hours battling the blaze, Tauber said.

He said no determination had been made on where the fire originated but the fire ripped through most of the home's roof, causing heavy damage.

"Fortunately, everyone is OK," he said. "This could have been a lot worse."

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(c)2020 The Tribune-Democrat (Johnstown, Pa.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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