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Family displaced by morning fire

By Staff | Dec 24, 2014

MONTGOMERY – An Amish family of six is displaced after their home off Armstrong Road in Clinton Township near Montgomery caught fire due to a fridge malfunctioning last Wednesday morning, Dec. 17.

The husband, wife and four children who lived in the house were uninjured and outside of the structure before the fire department even arrived.

Todd Winder, Clinton Township Fire Co. chief, described the blaze as “a bit of a struggle.”

“There was a malfunction in the propane-powered fridge and a large 300-pound propane cylinder was feeding the fire,” Winder said. “For a while, we couldn’t get close enough to the tank.”

The issue the firefighters had was access to water.

“The house is over 2,000 feet down a farm lane off Armstrong so we had to lay hoses that long,” Winder said. “The closest location we could get water was at the boat access ramp on the other side of the river in Muncy Creek Township about 4 miles away.”

Not only was access to water a great distance away, they had to lay hose across Norfolk Southern’s train tracks, ask it to stop transporting and hope no train traffic came and burst their line.

Even with their water issues, firefighters had the blaze out in an hour. Winder said their biggest issue is a declining number of volunteer firefighters.

“There used to be 300,000 volunteers in Pennsylvania and now we have roughly 50,000,” he said. “With the economy the way it is, people can’t just leave work or they don’t work in their communities anymore. That has an impact on a fire like this when you expect people and resources to be coming, and they don’t.”

Members of the area’s Amish community showed up to help clean and they already were taking measurements to build a new structure. Winder said he wouldn’t be surprised if they had the family under roof again in a few days.

“It’s amazing to see people still drop what they’re doing to help their community. And the same goes for the firemen who show up too,” he said. “It’s great for people to have support like that.”

Winder said the structure was a total loss with damage exceeding $100,000.