Firefighter injured responding to fire

June 27, 2013
Assistant North Strabane fire Chief Clyde Wilhelm takes information from homeowner Valerie Guyton after fire departments from North Strabane and Peters Township extinguished a fire in the home on Vista Hill Drive in North Strabane Township Thursday morning. The home is owned by Valerie and Patrick Guyton. - Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

A North Strabane Township volunteer firefighter was injured Thursday morning in a two-vehicle crash while responding to a blaze in the Linden Vue plan.

Gary Zimak Jr., 38, of North Strabane, was driving a squad car owned by the township fire department when he was struck by a vehicle driven by Jill Fountaine, 42, of Venetia. Zimak’s 6-year-old son, who was properly restrained in a child safety seat in the back seat, was not injured.

Township police Officer Chris Wilson said that Zimak was going south on Route 19 with his lights and siren activated and had slowed to about 20 mph as he approached the intersection at Weavertown Road when his vehicle was hit by Fountaine’s vehicle. Fountaine, who was coming from Weavertown to go north on Route 19, had a green light.

Zimak told Wilson that he was planning to make a left turn on to Fulton Road and take an alternative route to the fire. Wilson said it is his understanding that volunteer firefighters in the department assigned to have one of the department vehicles are required to keep those vehicles with them at all times.

Zimak was taken by ambulance to Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh for treatment of a laceration above his right eye and complaint of pain. A hospital spokesman had no record of his treatment. Fountaine was treated at the scene for facial swelling.

No one was injured in the fire reported about 10:20 a.m., said North Strabane assistant fire Chief Clyde Wilhelm.

Valerie Guyton was inside her home at 1130 Vista Hill Road with her three children, ages 4, 10 and 11, when she said she heard a popping noise. When she went to investigate, Guyton saw smoke coming from the master bathroom that was being renovated by a contractor.

“I called 911 and got the kids out of the house,” she said.

Wilhem said that when fire crews arrived, smoke was coming out of the second floor.

“We were able to confine the fire to the bathroom and got it quickly under control,” he said. “The contractor wasn’t there at the time but he may have been soddering something before he left.”

Assisting at the scene were Peters Township firefighters and the rapid intervention team of the Washington and Houston fire departments.

Kathie O. Warco has covered the police beat and transportation for the Observer-Reporter for more than 25 years. She graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in journalism.

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