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Fire destroys house near Clintonville

March 27, 2013 News Extra

CLINTON TWP, Venango County — A cabin-style house was destroyed by an apparent electrical fire Wednesday night just north of the Butler County line, authorities said.

But the homeowners managed to get out — barely.

“They escaped with just the clothes on their backs,” said Chief Gerry Rea of the Clintonville Volunteer Fire Department.

The couple, whose names were not immediately available, were in their one-story home on Withrup Road about 9:30 p.m. when they noticed smoke coming from the ceiling. They fled and called for help.

Fire had taken over half of the small house and flames were through the roof by the time firefighters got there.

A crew about 20 minutes later made its way inside while volunteer firefighters from Clintonville, Kennerdell, Rockland and Emlenton surrounded the home and poured water on it.

A tanker shuttle was used to get water to the house that was accessible only by a one-lane private dirt road. Later, a creek and a hydrant at a nearby power plant were tapped to replenish the tankers.

The house is considered a total loss, Rea said.

Firefighters left the scene about 2 a.m. today, were called back about 7 a.m. when the fire rekindled.

Investigators believe the fire was accidental and caused by faulty wiring in the electrical panel.

“(The homeowners) just had a new hot water tank installed the day before,” Rea said, “and they added two new breakers to the electrical box.”