Fire destroys century-old Gregg Township home

A fire destroyed a century-old home in remote Gregg Township last week, and authorities continue to investigate how it started.

The home is owned by John McDonald, a retired high school teacher from Penns Valley Area, and a neighbor said three relatives lived there, too. The house is at the end of Hummingbird Lane, a narrow gravel road off Harter Road, which is between Upper and Lower Georges Valley roads.

Gregg Township Fire Company Chief Doug Young said the fire likely started in a kitchen addition that was on the first floor of the two-story, wood-framed home. Young said the fire damage was so bad that the home has been declared unsafe and that the state police fire marshal cannot enter it.

On Monday, all that was left was the charred wooden frame. Some pieces on the ground were still smoldering.

Young said three of the people were in the house when the fire started, and they all got out safely. One person was treated for burns and released.

Crews arrived to a fully involved fire Friday afternoon, Young said. Because of a lot of hotspots, firefighters were on the scene until 10:30 p.m.

County tax records show the home was built around the year 1900. Young said the home burned quickly.

Fire crews were able to pump water from a nearby creek to douse the flames. A wooden bridge at the end of the lane prevented the fire trucks from going any further, and Young said crews had to run a hose over the bridge to get closer to the home.

The local chapter of the American Red Cross provided cash assistance for food and clothing, according to emergency services manager Romayne Naylor.

Fire companies from Millheim, Miles Township and Centre Hall provided assistance for Gregg Township’s crew. Tankers from Pleasant Gap, Boalsburg and Alpha fire companies were called in, too.