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Fire officials say two people were fortunate to escape with only minor injuries after a fire tore though their home during the early morning hours Thursday, Sept. 5.
Lancaster Fire Department Chief Chuck Small said homeowners, Pam and Joe Giardello, were sleeping inside a home at 554 Plantation Road when a smoke alarm woke them up.
“(They were) very fortunate. He just happened to wake up and he knew something wasn’t right,” Small said. “He heard alarms, but they had to exit the house through the basement because they couldn’t access the normal route due to the fire.”
The homeowners were able to get outside where they were met by members of the Lancaster County Emergency Medical Service.
“EMS transported the homeowners for smoke inhalation, but it was minor and they were released from the hospital,” Small said.
At least 25 members of the Lancaster Fire Department responded to the blaze at 1:17 a.m. Thursday, which was fully involved when they arrived.
“When we got there, there was heavy fire in the ceiling area on the back of the house and flames were visible out the roof,” Small said. “There was major damage to the house at that point.”
Small said firefighters worked throughout the night and cleared the scene at 8:30 a.m., though they returned a few hours later to fight several hotspots which flared back up.
Firefighters in turnout gear were seen at 11 a.m. spraying water inside the home. By that time, large portions of the home were either completely charred or had collapsed.
The home has not been examined by a building official, but Small believes the house is a total loss.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, though Small said it may have started on a back deck and spread to the roof and attic. He doesn’t suspect it was intentionally set.
“We know it started in the rear of the home and we still have it under investigation as to what the cause of the fire was,” Small said. “We don’t have any reason to think it’s suspicious. We’ve pretty much ruled that out, but we’re looking at everything from it being electrical to anything else right now.”
There were no injuries to any of the fire personnel, he said.
Though the homeowners were not available for comment Thursday afternoon, Pam Giardello’s stepfather, Mike Sistare, expressed gratitude for the help the family has already received.
“This is a tragedy you never want to go through,” Sistare said. “But I want to let people know who have called us or who have dropped off money without leaving their name, we love them.
The community has been great and it happened so fast.”
Contact reporter Chris Sardelli at (803) 416-8416