Alarm saves lives

For the second time in three days, a working smoke alarm was credited with alerting an area family Saturday night when a fire broke out in their Old Lycoming Township home.

“I’m awful glad we weren’t sleeping or it could have been much worse,” Chris Bruno said late Sunday morning outside her fire-damaged home on Fox Street, where she lives with her husband, Vince, and their two children, Andrew, 15, and 12-year-old daughter, Sydney.

All four safely made it out of the house at 2227 Fox St. just before 10 p.m. after Vince discovered a fire in a first-floor bathroom.

Bruno and his wife were at one end of the home in their living room when Sydney alerted them to hearing a smoke alarm going off. The girl also told them that her bedroom had lost electrical power.

When he went to investigate, Bruno discovered a fire in the exhaust fan above the shower in the bathroom, according to investigators.

Family members bolted out the front or side doors as the daughter called 911 to report the fire.

The Brunos’ dog, Mia, a 6-month-old Maltese, also safely escaped, and Bruno carried out two caged birds.

Smoke was pouring from the home on two sides when township police arrived on the scene. Fox Street, just west of Spring Garden Street, runs between Mill Lane and Division Road.

“The working smoke alarms are what made all the difference. If the fire was later at night and the alarms weren’t working, there is no telling what might have happened,” township Deputy Fire Chief Matt Oldt said.

He ordered a second alarm almost immediately, which brought additional resources from Hepburn Township, Woodward Township, DuBoistown, South Williamsport, Loyalsock Township, Montoursville and Jersey Shore.

Oldt said the initial attack crew, two city firefighters and a volunteer on a township pumper, did a superb job in knocking down much of the fire.

At one point, flames shot through a hole in the roof. The fire was declared under control at 10:20 p.m.

A township road crew poured cinders on the street, which had turned into a sheet of ice as water runoff from the hoses froze.

Freighters also had to call the water company after a water main broke on Mill Lane, but the break did not hamper their efforts in extinguishing the fire, Oldt said.

The Brunos are expected to be displaced for several weeks until repairs are made. Bruno said he has fire insurance.

“Family and friends have been wonderful,” Chris Bruno said.

The local chapter of the American Red Cross also offered emergency assistance to the Brunos, who are staying with friends until they can find a temporary home.

Township Fire Chief Joseph Hope said investigators have determined the fire was accidental. It appears that the fan in the shower malfunctioned, he said. Fire damage has been set at at least $70,000, he added.

On Thursday afternoon, a city couple was routed from their Elmira Street home after they heard a smoke alarm that was activated by an out-of-control fire in their kitchen. The cause of this fire also has been ruled accidental.