NEW BETHLEHEM – A fire that damaged a Lafayette Street home in New Bethlehem on Monday afternoon remained under investigation by authorities late Tuesday.
Firefighters from six area companies helped battle the blaze after fire broke out at the home of Tom and Tammy McClaine around 2:40 p.m. Monday.
“By the time we got there, the flames were through the roof,” New Bethlehem Fire Chief Barry Fox said yesterday (Tuesday).
With the home located at 605 Lafayette Street, Fox said that neighborhood is very cramped, with a narrow street and houses close together — all of which made fighting the fire more complicated.
“It was just so tight up there,” he said. “You can’t get two trucks side by side on the street.”
As of late Tuesday, Fox said the cause of the fire remained undetermined.
No one from the McClaine family was at home when the fire broke out, Fox said; however, a roofing crew was at the house, installing a new roof on the property.
“We were worried about the roofers on the roof,” Fox said, adding that firefighters also kept close watch on the houses on either side of the McClaine house, which are only separated by a small gap.
Also complicating firefighting efforts, Fox said, was the timing of the blaze.
“That’s a bad time for all fire companies around here,” he said of the fact that so many volunteer firefighters work out of town. “We’re shorthanded that time of day.”
All told, firefighters from New Bethlehem, Hawthorn, Distant, Limestone, Rimersburg and Sligo helped in the effort.
Fox said firefighters first concentrated efforts on the roof, and eventually came inside to keep the fire from spreading.
“We kept it knocked down where it really couldn’t take off,” he said.
Fox said that the third floor attic space was mostly destroyed, with heavy water and smoke damage throughout the lower levels of the home. He said it would be up to the insurance company to determine if the house was a total loss.
On a positive note, Fox said that the neighboring houses were undamaged, and that no one was injured fighting the fire.
He credited crews from all the surrounding fire companies for pitching in, as well as several bystanders who helped out until the majority of firefighters had arrived at the scene.