Fairview Twp. fire displaces 2

Christopher Dornblaser

Discarded rags are being blamed for starting a house fire Sunday afternoon in Fairview Township that displaced two people and a dog.

The fire occurred on the 300 block of Steigerwalt Hollow Road around 1 p.m. Sunday, according to Fairview Township Fire Department Chief Chris Weidenhammer.

"It was spontaneous combustion from some stain-soaked rags that the homeowner had just used," he said.

Fire fighters work the scene of a house fire on Steigerwalt Hollow Road in Fairview Township, Sunday, April 17, 2016. Dawn J. Sagert photo

The homeowner had been staining and laid the rags down near a trash can next to the garage, the chief said. While the rags sat out in the sun, they combusted, spreading to the trash can and garage and eventually reaching the rest of the home.

Weidenhammer estimated the damage at $150,000.

“I consider it a total loss at this point," he said.

He said the fire was fully involved when firefighters arrived, and the smoke column could be seen from roughly four miles away. The home is located in a heavily wooded area, and the fire spread to some of the nearby woods, according to Weidenhammer.

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“We cleared both incidents right around the same time,” he said.

Crews were able to knock the fire in about 30 minutes, Weidenhammer said, but with cleanup they didn't end up leaving the scene until 3:30 p.m.

Despite the large fire, he said, crews did not encounter much difficulty. He said usually water is an issue around those areas, but they had enough tankers and never ran out of water.

"It was nothing out of the ordinary, no injuries," Weidenhammer said. "It was as good as you can get as far as a fire is concerned."

The chief said a couple and their dog were displaced by the fire. The Red Cross is assisting them.

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at