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Tuesday, 20 November 2018 17:47

Man Burned, Woman Rescued From Parks Township, PA, Auto Body Shop Fire

Written by Chuck Biedka, Trib Live

A man suffered burns to his face and hands in a fire the morning of Nov. 10 at a Parks Township, PA, auto body shop. Firefighters rescued a woman who lived above the shop.


“Now I’ve lost everything except this,” said Betty Wolfe, 66, as she clutched a 5-by-7-inch framed photo of her mother.


The fire on Dime Road started just after 11 a.m.


North Apollo Assistant Fire Chief Cliff Rearic said he was driving across the Vandergrift Bridge on his way home from picking up medicine for his dog when he saw thick, black smoke and called Armstrong County 911.


A short time later, Rearic and other firefighters helped Wolfe from her apartment above Walton Auto Body. They led her away from propane tanks near the burning building and down a steep hillside made slick by leaves.


By then, two firefighters in the Leechburg ladder truck were directing hoses onto the second floor of the burning two-story structure as other firefighters worked to put out the fire from the ground.


Volunteers from nine fire companies responded and helped prevent the fire from spreading to the shop’s spray paint booth and the Shawn Audino Construction company, also in the building. Medics from as far as Murrysville assisted Lower Kiski medics.


“This was a major team effort, and they made a great stop,” Parks Fire Chief Jay Start said.


Start did not know what caused the fire, but said it likely started in the repair shop.


Denny Walton, owner of the auto body shop, suffered burns to his face and hands and was taken to Armstrong County Memorial Hospital.


The auto body shop and apartment appeared to be a total loss. Firefighters who went inside Wolfe’s apartment found the framed photo of her mother and gave it to her.


“I loved being there. There were three deer that I’d seen regularly,” said Wolfe, who had lived in the apartment since March.


Firefighters faced several challenges.


Among them was the lack of hydrants in that area of Dime Road. Hoses had to be run from hydrants at the top and bottom of the steep, winding hill, about three-quarters of a mile in each direction.


“We had a good water supply in less than a half-hour,” Start said.


Flammable solvents and paint inside the shop and propane tanks outside it also presented risks. Firefighters directed hundreds of gallons of water onto a large commercial propane tank and at least two smaller ones to prevent an explosion.


We thank Trib Live for reprint permission.

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