PUNXSUTAWNEY — A duplex along Graffius Avenue that was the home to 14 people sustained severe damage from a fire that erupted around 10:40 a.m. Tuesday.
The house located at 210 1/2 and 211 Graffius Ave. and owned by Richard Shaffer of Rossiter was fully involved when the alarm was turned in by Central Fire Department Chief Scott Depp, who was helping with borough leaf collection not far from the scene.
According to Punxsutawney Elk Run Fire Chief Bryan Smith, the two-story wood frame structure was fully involved when firefighters arrived.
“We went to a second alarm right away and had help from both Big Run and McCalmont Township firefighters assisting at the scene of the blaze,” he said. “There were residents on both sides that were still in the home when the fire broke out. They are lucky to be alive.”
The duplex was home to the Trayer family at 210 1/2 and the Patrick Powers family at 211.
Some of the residents said they saw flames coming through the heating vent in the floor in the living room near the front door of 211 Graffius as they escaped the flames.
Smith said none of the renters had insurance and were receiving assistance from the American Red Cross which, along with the Salvation Army, provided food and drinks for firefighters at the scene.
Smith said he wasn’t sure if the structure was insured or not.
Firefighters were assisted by Jefferson County EMS, and Reynoldsville was on stand-by at the McCalmont Township fire hall. Sykesville stood by at the Big Run fire hall.
Smith said that one resident of the home suffered burns in the fire and was transported to Punxsutawney Area Hospital for treatment.
Punxsutawney-based Pennsylvania State Police fire marshal Julie Clark is investigating the cause of the blaze, which is believed to have started in the basement.
The smoke and flames could be seen throughout the Punxsutawney area Tuesday morning.