LOCK HAVEN - Fire officials say the exact cause of a fire that destroyed the John and Suzanne Hanna home Saturday night isn't clear... but one thing's certain, fighting fires at homes at the top of Sunset Pines is hard work.
"It's officially listed as undetermined ... because of how it burned and how much it burned," Lock Haven Fire Chief Bob Neff said this morning. "We're leaning toward electrical, but it's hard to tell with the vast amount of damage,"
Neff estimated the loss at $350,000 to the house and $150,000 to the contents.
At least 100 firefighters, dozens of pieces of fire equipment and thousands of feet of hose were used to battle the blaze.
"It's clear at the top... the next to last home. It's a one lane road with no other way out. One way up ... one way down ... and it's all uphill," Neff said.
"The closest fire hydrant is at the intersection of Hill Street and Susquehanna Avenue, exactly a mile from house. A tanker shuttle carried water to a dump site set up at Hillcrest and Hemlock Drive. And from there, we had to pump water another 300 feet up the hill to reach the house," Neff said, describing the difficulties faced.
"There was quite a bit of fire when we first got there... and it takes time to get a dump site set up and tankers there. That's why I kept calling more companies. We had 10 tankers. They say a fire doubles in size every few minutes. It took us 15 to 20 minutes to get a sustained water supply and by then the fire had a very good hold on the two-story home with walk-out basement," Neff said.
Most of the firefighters walked the last couple hundred feet to the fire, Neff said.
"We were using Castanea Fire Co.'s bus to haul them up and after we dropped them off they still had to walk up a steep hill."
One firefighter experienced high blood pressure and was taken to Lock Haven Hospital for treatment, Neff said.
Hanna also commented on the difficulty that firefighters faced reaching the fire and lauded them for their efforts.
"It's not an easy place to fight a fire. It's all up hill and there is limited water supply. But the firemen were awesome. It's amazing what they do. You don't realize ... you don't think about it until it happens to you," Hanna said.
He had more kind words for the community that has come to the family's aid since they learned about the fire.
"It's absolutely incredible the number of people who stopped by Sunday... People were dropping off things... food ... clothes... and offering to help in any way. There were people I don't even know. It's just incredible how this community cares."
A total of 18 fire companies responded, including Lock Haven's Hope Hose, Hand-In-Hand and Citizens fire companies, and those from Castanea, Mill Hall, Dunnstown, Flemington, Avis, Beech Creek/Blanchard, Wayne Township, Lamar Township, Sugar Valley, Nittany Valley, Haneyville and Emerald Hose of Renovo from Clinton County; Independent Hose of Jersey Shore and Waterville fire companies from Lycoming County and the Howard Fire Co. of Centre County.