Quick action saves home
Fire damages Harmony house
Butler Eagle
Written by:
February 27, 2013

HARMONY — A homeowner’s last-minute decision to forego an out-of-state trip Saturday may have saved his house from going up in flames, authorities said.

Instead of being away, Martin Florcik and his wife were home and alerted firefighters before the blaze at 126 Old Little Creek Road got out of hand.

Quick action by the Harmony Volunteer Fire Department contained the fire shortly before 2 p.m. at the one-and-a-half-story house. No one was injured.

“(Florcik) was renovating the house and we believe it was electrical,” Chief Neal Nanna of the Harmony VFC said of the fire’s cause. “He had moved an (electrical) socket up in the attic.”

Authorities said Florcik about 9 a.m. had smelled smoke but he believed it was coming from a neighbor’s fireplace.

The Florciks had apparently planned to leave for Virginia that day “but for some unknown reason,” Nanna said, they decided to stay home.

Florcik’s wife was in the living room about 2 p.m. when she looked out the window and saw smoke coming from the eaves of the house. The couple called 911 and safely got outside.

Firefighters arrived and saw the smoke pouring out the eaves and roof.

“We put an interior crew into the attic and found the fire,” Nanna said,

The fire had ignited sprayed on-style asbestos insulation from the 1960s.

“It took a while for us to get it out,” Nanna acknowledged.

Fires in structures that contain asbestos can pose health risks, he said, as flames cannot only disrupt the naturally occurring mineral but can spread it throughout an area.

Breathing the airborne fibers can cause a range of serious illnesses such as asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma, a form of cancer that attacks the thin membrane that lines the body’s chest, abdomen and other internal organs.

Because of the health concerns, firefighters underwent a decontamination process following their work.

Nanna said firefighters were hosed down and their gear washed off. The water used for the process was collected and sent off for safe disposal.

Damage to the house, which is insured, was estimated at $10,000.

The Zelienople Volunteer Fire Department assisted Harmony firefighters, who were back at their station about 4:30 p.m.