Crawford fire

Firefighters from six area fire companies battled a Christmas Eve blaze that broke out at a home along Lower Mudlic Road in Mayport, Redbank Township (Armstrong County). Officials said the home belonging to Patrick and Patricia Crawford was a total loss. The cause of the fire is still under investigation by the state police fire marshal.

REDBANK TWP. — A Christmas Eve fire that destroyed a Redbank Township home remains under investigation by authorities.

Firefighters from six area companies helped battle the blaze after fire broke out at the home of Patrick and Patricia Crawford, located at 930 Lower Mudlic Road in Mayport, around 6:25 p.m. on Dec. 24.

“The fire was through the roof when we got there,” Hawthorn Fire Chief Curtis Kiehl Jr. said last Thursday, explaining that the home was fully engulfed in flames when fire crews arrived on the scene. “We couldn’t get inside to do anything. It was a total loss.”

According to Kiehl, the home’s steel roof presented complications for firefighters attempting to battle the fire.

“We couldn’t get inside because of safety concerns,” Kiehl said. He noted that the roof, and the second and first stories of the house collapsed one on top of the other in the basement. “There was just too much debris to fight around to get everything at once.”

In fact, after clearing the scene around 10:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve, Kiehl said the Hawthorn Fire Department was called back out two times – once in the morning and once in the evening – on Christmas Day for rekindles.

All told, firefighters from Hawthorn, New Bethlehem, Distant, Dayton, Ringgold and Summerville, along with the New Bethlehem Police Department and Clarion Hospital Ambulance helped in the effort.

In addition, fire crews from Rimersburg, Limestone and Oliver Township were placed on standby for the other departments on Christmas Eve.

Although he wasn’t sure who all was inside the home when the fire broke out, Kiehl confirmed that everyone was able to get out without injuries.

Based off a preliminary investigation, Kiehl said that the cause and origin of the fire remains undetermined. The state police Fire Marshal was called to the scene around 8:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve and is currently investigating the case. He noted that it could take several weeks for a formal report to be complete.

“There’s just nothing left,” Kiehl said of the home, urging the local community to help the family with donations of any kind if possible. “It stinks no matter what time of the year it is, but it’s definitely worse around the holidays.”

In an effort to help with the investigation, New Bethlehem Police Chief Bob Malnofsky requests that area residents who may have seen vehicles or suspicious activity at the home prior to the fire contact the New Bethlehem Police Department or state police Fire Marshal.

The cause of the fire was still under investigation as of press time.

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