No injuries reported in early-morning Big Run fire

BIG RUN — Area firefighters battled another structure fire in Big Run early Tuesday morning along Caroline Street, but this time, there was someone home when the blaze broke out.

Firefighters were called at 2:30 a.m. Tuesday to the home of Jim Stellabuto Sr. at 204 Caroline St., Big Run, which had flames coming from the garage and heavy smoke showing from the rest of the house when crews arrived.

Big Run Fire Department Chief Todd Peace said Stellabuto awoke around 2:15 a.m. when he heard the smoke detectors in the house. He smelled the smoke and quickly evacuated. Stellabuto was uninjured.

Even though temperatures had cooled from over the weekend, and the night air was cool, firefighters had to deal with the extremely warm conditions.

“Our rule is once they’ve used up a bottle of air, all interior firefighters have to go into rehab, where they sit down, drink some water, eat a snack and have their vitals checked by an
EMT or paramedic, Peace said. “If a firefighter does not follow that procedure, they’re done for the night.”

Peace said another obstacle has become the recent popularity of steel roofs on businesses and residences.

“Not only do they hold the fire and heat in the structure, but it is difficult to cut through them and requires a special saw, and it takes longer to cut through in order to ventilate the structure,” he said. Also, the steel is quite slippery, and firefighters have a difficult time maintaining their balance.

Peace said it took firefighters two hours to bring the fire — which appeared to have started in the garage — under control.

The cause is undetermined and being investigated by the Pennsylvania State Police fire marshal.

“I’m pretty sure it began in the garage,” Peace said. “At this time, I don’t believe the fire is connected to any of the other fires that have occurred in Big Run over the last several months.”

Big Run was assisted by Sykesville, Central, Elk Run, McCalmont Township and Lindsey with its cascade unit to refill air bottles.

Stand-by companies included Reynoldsville at Sykesville, Mahaffey at Big Run and Brookville at Punxsutawney.

Sykesville Ambulance and the Salvation Army of Punxsutawney provided drinks and snacks for firefighters.

Peace said the garage was destroyed in the blaze, the house sustained smoke and water damage, and there were no injuries reported.