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Fire destroys Oliveburg home

June 19, 2011

This house located in Oliveburg was fully involved with fire when Oliver Township firefighters arrived on scene early Saturday. Firefighters knocked the flames down in the initial attack through the use of the Compressed Air Foam System (CAFS). (Photo by Larry McGuire/The Punxsutawney Spirit)

OLIVEBURG — A truck in the driveway of a burning house caused responders to fear the worst during a fire early Saturday in Oliveburg.

Luckily, their fears of someone trapped inside the home along Route 36 were unfounded.

"We knew the owner drove a car, and she wasn't in there, but (we initially thought) maybe someone else was in there, " Bruce Baughman, Oliver Township Fire chief, said.

But once firefighters were able to enter the home, he said, they were able to determine that no one was inside the residence at the time the fire broke out.

The chief said the fire was reported at 2:52 a.m. Saturday, at a house located on Route 36 across from Wachob Road.

Baughman said there was some confusion when the call first came in to the 911 Center, whether the house was located in Perry Township or Oliver Township.

Once 911 dispatchers connected the cross road to Wachob Road, he said, the location of the fire was confirmed.

Baughman said when he arrived on scene, fire was coming out of all of the windows in the structure.

"Upon arrival there was fire in every room of the house," he said. "On the initial hit with CAFS we only used 600 gallons of water, which could never happen with just plain water."

Baughman said the CAFS (Compressed Air Foam Systems) contain three ingredients: Foam, air and water.

The water cools and the foam takes away the oxygen, causing the fire to go out, Baughman said, adding that firefighters are removing the oxygen and cooling the fire all in one step.

"When we first put our engine into pump gear, it automatically uses foam on the initial attack," he said. "Basically, the whole inside of the house was cooked, and the foam and water combination knocked the fire down."

Baughman said the Pennsylvania State Police fire marshal began an investigation Saturday.

The fire marshal will return to the site today to continue his investigation, Baughman said, adding the house is a total loss, and he hasn't communicated with the homeowner as to whether or not it was insured.

Baughman said Oliver Township Fire Company was assisted at the scene by Lindsey, Perry Township, McCalmont Township and Knox Dale volunteer fire companies, as well as Jefferson County EMS.

Brookville Fire Department was called as the Rapid Intervention Team (RIT), which is a group of specially trained firefighters standing by to rescue fellow firefighters if someone should happen to get into trouble while fighting a blaze outside or inside.

Fortunately, RIT was not needed Saturday, and all fire companies were back in their headquarters by 10:30 a.m.

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