Washington firefighters called to West Chestnut home

March 11, 2014
Furniture and walls were charred by a fire that started in the basement of a home at 1035 W. Chestnut St. in Washington Tuesday morning. - Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

An elderly Washington woman told city firefighters Tuesday morning that she was alerted to a fire in the basement of her home by one of her cats.

Margaret Roupe was sitting in the living room of her 1035 W. Chestnut St. home about 5:58 a.m.

“She was watching television when one of her cats started acting goofy,” said city fire Chief Linn Brookman. “That is when smoke started coming up through the floor.”

Roupe, who uses a walker, was helped out of her home by two men working for a gas-drilling company who happened to be in the area, said police Chief Chris Luppino. Brookman said a passerby called the 911 center after seeing smoke coming from the roof.

Firefighters were able to quickly knock down the blaze, which was contained to the basement.

Roupe was checked at the scene by Ambulance and Chair personnel, said fire Capt. Nick Blumer.

Four of Roupe’s cats survived the fire, but two others died, Brookman added.

A state police fire marshal was called to investigate the cause. Brookman said the fire marshal is waiting to talk with insurance investigators before making a ruling, although the origin of the blaze was not suspicious.

Brookman also is waiting to talk with insurance investigators before setting a damage estimate. He said the house was not structurally damaged by the fire, but a room in the basement will require renovation.

Roupe went to her brother’s home, and the American Red Cross was contacted to offer her assistance.

The rapid intervention team from the North Strabane and Peters Township fire departments was called, but the response was canceled before the units arrived.

A second platoon of the city’s fire department also was called in but did not respond.

A fire marshal also made a ruling on a fire Monday morning that gutted a Donegal Township home at 77 Ealy Road. Trooper S.L. Jones ruled the fire, which did about $40,000 in damage, as accidental.

He said it started in the chimney of a wood-burning stove in the living room.

Frank Archambault and his wife were running errands when the fire broke out. West Alexander firefighter John Thomas was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation suffered while rescuing their dog.

West Alexander firefighters were assisted by firefighters from Claysville, Taylorstown and South Franklin Township.

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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