A family of four fled in pajamas after a fire broke out Friday morning, destroying a brick, two-story home at 125 Lilac Avenue in Ross Township. The fire started shortly before 8 a.m. and took firefighters more than two hours to contain.
Ross fire marshal John Reubi said it appears the fire started in the rear of the home, where a deck off of the first floor collapsed.
"We just started the investigation, but the way the deck has been consumed, normally a fire on the inside doesn't get out onto the deck," Reubi said. "It's all very preliminary, but it's possible it started on the deck or under the deck."
Ross Township police also responded to the scene, including Chief Robert Bellan and at least one detective.
Carole Popchock lives across the street and was among several neighbors to call the fire department.
"One of my neighbors a couple of doors up, I heard her yell call 9-1-1," Popchock said. "I turned around, I saw my neighbor's house with black smoke pouring out of the back of it. I ran into the house and called 9-1-1, while other neighbors were pounding on doors trying to get the family out. They came out in their pajamas and bare feet. They may have been sleeping."
The man, his wife, and two children, a grade school aged boy and a girl in junior high school, were not hurt.
David Simpson lives directly next door at 123 Lilac Avenue.
"All of the sudden I heard a couple boom, boom, booms and then I wasn't sure what that was, it sounded like a big crash or a big wreck on the interstate," Simpson said. "When I came out to move the cars, the propane tank on the porch was flaring off because of the heat. The tank popped the safety valve and was feeding the fire because it was under the porch."
The fire marshal said at least one of the homeowners had been doing some holiday shopping early Friday morning.
"The owner stated he didn't get home until early this morning, all of those presents are lost in the fire," Reubi said.
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