Fire displaces occupants of 24 student housing units in Patton Township

Crews battle fire in Patton Township

Centre County fire crews were on the scene Sunday, May 19, 2019, of a structure fire at 201 Vairo Blvd. in Patton Township.
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Centre County fire crews were on the scene Sunday, May 19, 2019, of a structure fire at 201 Vairo Blvd. in Patton Township.

Update: Fire officials on Monday confirmed a lightning strike as the cause of the fire.

Residents in 24 apartment units in the Tremont Student Living complex were displaced after a fire broke out Sunday evening, Alpha Fire Company Chief Jason Troup said.

The Centre Region fire marshal is still investigating the cause of the blaze.

Multiple Centre County emergency crews were dispatched to the third-alarm fire off Vairo Boulevard at about 5:35 p.m., while severe thunderstorms rolled through the area. Once on scene, Troup said he could see heavy smoke and flames coming from the roof area of Building F.

“Crews went up to the third floor and began opening up the ceiling,” Troup said. “We also began searching the apartment to make sure everybody was out. We didn’t find anyone in either building, everyone had evacuated.”

After making sure all residents were out of the building, Troup said crews began to fight the fire from inside. While inside, he said the intensity of the fire started to pick up, and they pulled crews out, fearing imminent collapse of the roof. They finished fighting the fire from the outside on ladders, and marked control in about an hour, he said.

Although no occupants were injured, Troup said one firefighter was transported to Mount Nittany Medical Center as a precaution.

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Alpha firefighters work on he scene of a third-alarm building fire at the Tremont Student Living complex in Patton Township on Sunday. Lauren Muthler lmuthler@centredaily.com

Devin Lopez, who lives in Tremont’s Building A, on the other side of the parking lot, said he was sitting at his desk eating when he heard a large crack then a boom just after 5:30 p.m.

“It wasn’t like a normal bassy thunder, it was a crack,” he said. “Then shortly after that, the WiFi went out. A couple minutes later, I heard the fire alarm.”

When Lopez went outside to see what was going on, he said he could see flames coming off the top of the roof of Building F.

The top floor of Building F sustained the most damage, Troup said. Although the fire damage was contained to about six units, he said the first and second floors also sustained water damage. Because the utilities for buildings F and G are connected, Troup said power was shut off for both. In all, 24 units have been affected by the fire.

Those residents are asked to call Tremont’s main office building at 2388-4099 for assistance, fire officials said.

After marking control, Alpha crews remained on scene for about three more hours, knocking out hot spots and taking care of remaining hazards.

Along with Alpha, Boalsburg, Pleasant Gap and Undine fire companies responded to the scene, along with Centre LifeLink EMS, Patton Township police and WestPenn Powers. Fame EMS rehab unit out of Mifflin County also responded to provide refreshments and rehabilitation services for the first responders.