‘We got everyone out’: Major fire forces evacuation of 40 from senior living facility in Clearfield

For the CDTJune 25, 2013 

— Dozens of residents were evacuated from a Clearfield County senior living facility destroyed by fire on Tuesday.

Colonial Courtyard of Clearfield, operated by IntegraCare Corp. of Wexford, reported the fire at 7:22 p.m., according to Clearfield County Emergency Services Director Joe Bigar. Lawrence Township Fire Company responded to the initial call and the operation was directed by Chief Elliott Neeper.

There were no injuries to the approximately 40 residents, all of whom were evacuated to the Graystone apartments across the street. Local service agencies transported the residents to facilities such as nearby Mountain Laurel Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and Clearfield Hospital. Some residents were taken home by family members.

Tammy Miller, of State College, is an instructor with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and was teaching a communications class next door when the fire broke out.

“We were taking a break from class and they looked out the door, and they saw just a small amount of flames,” Miller said.

Many of her 24 students took action, running over to the building and helping to evacuate the residents.

“They went into the building, knocked on doors, actually carried people into safety,” she said. “They actually saw the fire before the people in the building saw the fire. They saved lives this evening.”

IBEW student Jaimee Cancolina, of Philipsburg, she and her classmates immediately jumped into action when they saw the flames.

“Some helped people out, some people got oxygen tanks out and we got everyone out and across the street,” she said.

Bigar reported no firefighter injuries as of 9:30 p.m., but efforts to combat the blaze were still underway, with at least four ladder trucks actively pouring water onto the visible flames.

“Aggressive interior attacks began after resident extraction,” he said. “The fire crews did an excellent job of putting life safety first. Life safety is number one, and that is what our fire services did.”

No cause was determined as of press time, although some reports at the scene attributed it to lightning.

“I don’t care, as long as the residents are safe,” said one employee.

Heather Hottle contributed to this report.

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