Fire and ice collided in Philipsburg on Wednesday when an early morning fire broke out, destroying a Ninth Street home.
No one was home at the time of the fire; however, the family dog died in the blaze.
“A passer-by discovered smoke from the rear of the structure and called it in,” said Philipsburg Fire Department Chief Jeff Skinner.
That first call came at 7:01 a.m. Within half an hour, the residence at 338 N. Ninth St. was a fully involved blaze.
The frigid early morning temperatures played a part in the battle. An AccuWeather meteorologist puts the number at 12 degrees below zero, but local thermometers near the scene registered as low as minus 14.
With conditions that cold, firefighters were working as hard to keep from freezing as they were to put out the flames. Skinner said his men were having “a lot of problems. Our hoses are freezing up, our trucks are freezing up.”
Ninth Street was covered in inches of ice and slush from the hoses. Philipsburg borough crews were on standby to salt the roads immediately after they were cleared by first responders.
Many firefighters were still encrusted with ice from spraying hoses even at 10:45 a.m. when the fire was extinguished and the fire marshal was on-site to investigate.
One American Red Cross volunteer said the dangers of the freezing weather to firefighters getting soaked in the course of an operation can be “even worse than summer” when they can suffer heat exhaustion in the high temperatures.
Long Motor Buses provided vehicles for shelter from the cold. Red Cross and Moshannon Valley Emergency Medical Services were there as well.
However, while owner Shawn Timblin and resident Theresa Carlin already had left for work when the fire broke out, their dog was still at home and died in the fire. Firefighters brought the remains, wrapped in a wet red sheet, out of the house carefully and gingerly turned the pet over to the family.
The house, a total loss, was insured. No cause has been determined yet. Firefighters from 13 departments in Clearfield and Centre counties fought the blaze.