NEW CASTLE —
Hickory Township firefighter Bill Wischerman was at work Tuesday afternoon when the call came.
The house where he lived was on fire.
“He showed up, suited up and asked me what he could do to help out,” said chief David White of the Hickory Township Volunteer Fire Department.
The house at 2403 Eastbrook Road, a former service station, was a total loss, White said. He said he called the state fire marshal, “but there’s very little left for him to investigate. He said he is considering it a fire of undetermined origin.
It was a large building and the fire did a lot of damage. We may never know the cause,” he said.
White added that the fire damaged the siding on houses to the north and south of the burning building and to a neighbor’s garage, but there was no damage to the interiors of the other houses.
Next-door neighbor Elizabeth McKee of 2397 Eastbrook Road, called the county 911 center about 1 p.m. Tuesday.
“I was on a raft in my pool,” she said. “I looked up and saw smoke just pouring out the eaves and windows.”
McKee said the block building, constructed by her husband’s grandfather as a gas station/mechanic’s shop, included an apartment on the upper floor.
Witnesses said resident Fred Rowan and his mother were sitting on the back porch when the fire started.
White noted that four people lived in the building.
“They lost just about everything,” he said, adding, “I know the American Red Cross was contacted, but I don’t know if they were able to provide housing or if the people found someplace on their own.”
A dozen fire companies turned out to battle the blaze. — Hickory, Scott, Neshannock, Wilmington, Mahoning, Shenango, Princeton, Volant and South New Castle Borough from Lawrence County, Slippery Rock Borough and Portersville of Butler County, and Springfield/Pine Township from Mercer County.