Fire consumes summer home near Morris

PHOTO PROVIDED This was the scene when volunteer firefighters arrived at a house fire Sunday morning near Liberty. The small dog in foreground belonged to a neighbor. Photo courtesy of Tim Kreger.

MORRIS — A century-old two-story farm house on Potato Patch Lane, near the Lycoming-Tioga county line, was destroyed in a fire Sunday that took nearly six hours to extinguish, according to Morris Fire Chief Dean Kreger.

“There was smoke coming out from under the eaves when firefighters arrived on the scene. That’s not a good sign. It meant the fire already had spread throughout much of the home,” Kreger said.

When the fire was reported by a neighbor about 9:10 a.m., no one was at the property, which was used primarily as a summer residence, Kreger said. The identity of the property owner was not available Sunday night.

The cause of the fire has been ruled accidental, sparked by an apparent lightning strike, Kreger said.

“When firefighters entered the house through a back door, some of the floor joists in the first-floor ceiling had already burned off and dropped. I suspect the fire likely had been burning for an hour to 90 minutes before a neighbor reported it,” Kreger said.

“Through the years, there had been several additions to the home, and that made it a lot harder to fight the fire because there were many voids, hidden spaces where the fire could go. It made for a lot of work for the firefighters,” he added.

There were no reports of injuries, but a few incidents of heat exhaustion.

“We kept rotating crews in-and-out of the house all day,” Kreger said. Tankers shuttled water drafted from a pond three miles away.

The National Weather Service at State College reported the heat index for the Tioga County region on Sunday afternoon at an oppressive 97 degrees.

Kreger said an estimated 35 volunteer firefighters responded from five communities with 13 pieces of equipment. Besides Morris, firefighters from Liberty, Bloosburg, Wellsboro and Jersey Shore responded.

About an hour after leaving the scene, firefighters were called back to extinguish a flare-up that took another two hours to extinguish. Mansfield firefighters were among the fire companies that assisted with this incident.