Thick smoke could be seen for miles as hundreds of firefighters from both Schuylkill and Lehigh counties converged on a house fire at 3348 Summer Valley Road (SR895) in New Ringgold, West Penn Township, just after 10:30 Thursday morning.
"After seeing flames shooting through the roof, firefighters were ordered off the roof," said Clint Schock, assistant fire chief, West Penn Fire Company, who served as commanding fire officer during the blaze.
Despite a quick response from firefighters, the mostly brick home was destroyed by the blaze. The road was closed for several hours as two port-a-ponds, also known as temporary water holding areas, were set up on scene to provide firefighters a constant flow of water.
Firefighters were also staged at various fill sites to keep the water tanker trucks filled.
The home was purchased only three months ago by Bob Bachman, a long distance truck driver for Wal-Mart. Bachman's girlfriend, Tina Weaver, also lived in the home. Neither were home when the fire started.
The late Bert Osenbach previously lived in the home, which was built primarily of brick and stone. A small car, parked in the lower garage of two-level home, was also destroyed.
Responding were firefighters from West Penn, New Ringgold, Tamaqua, Walker Township, Brockton, Tuscarora, Deer Lake, Orwigsburg, Germansville, New Tripoli and Lynnport. Also responding were Penn Mahoning ambulance, Tamaqua Rescue and West Penn police. PPL also responded to cut power.
The fire appeared to start in the basement near the wood stove, although the official origin of the blaze won't be known until a fire marshal investigates.
"I'd like to extend an appreciation for the quick response and cooperation of all the units who responded during work hours to fight the fire," Schock said.
Bachman and Weaver are being assisted by the Schuylkill and Eastern Northumberland chapter of the American Red Cross.
Volunteers with the West Penn Fire Police closed SR895 for the duration. No injuries were reported.