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Seven safely escape downtown fire

By Staff | Jul 17, 2019

MUNCY – Tragedy was averted early Wednesday morning, July 10, thanks to working smoke alarms that alerted several tenants to a fire set in their four-unit apartment building at 24 W. Water St., according to fire and police investigators.

“This could have been real bad. This could have been a catastrophe,” Scott Delany, Muncy Area assistant fire chief, said of the blaze that broke out about 3:50 a.m.

Seven residents were routed from their beds either by the smoke alarms, or by someone who had already heard the smoke detectors pounding on their doors, Delany said.

All seven occupants of the three-story structure had evacuated with no injuries when Muncy Area volunteer firefighters arrived on the scene, according to Kevin Rupert, another assistant fire chief.

“There was heavy smoke coming from the first and second floors,” Rupert said. Firefighters donned self-contained breathing apparatus and extinguished the fire with two hoses in a matter of minutes.

Firefighters from Hughesville, Picture Rocks, Muncy Township, Clinton Township and Warrior Run Area also responded.

The fire originated in and was confined to one apartment that spans the first and second floors, according to investigators, who declined to release the name of the man who lived there. That tenant was taken to Muncy Valley Hospital to be evaluated, officials said. The local chapter of the American Red Cross was called to offer him emergency assistance. Remaining tenants were able to return to their apartments, Rupert said.

Cpl. Nicholas A. Loffredo, a state police fire marshal, was called to the scene and determined that the fire was intentionally set in several areas within the middle apartment.

Muncy Borough Police Chief James Dorman confirmed Loffredo’s statement, clarifying that seven points of fire origin were found in the man’s apartment.

Estimated damage is nearly $30,000; the structure has been owned by Dean and Elaine Avery of Lairdsville since 2001. Avery stated that the building was insured.

Oddly enough, flames broke out during Thanksgiving Day in 2004, Avery said, but on a different level of the structure, Avery said.

At the time of publishing, Dorman said no one has been charged, but the ongoing investigation will involve the Lycoming County District Attorney’s Office.