City fire due to kitchen mishap

Cooking left unattended on a stove has been ruled the accidental cause of Tuesday night’s two-alarm house fire that destroyed a home in the 1100 block of Hadtner Avenue, according to Sam Aungst, a platoon chief and the city’s fire investigator.

Flames were shooting from the rear of the structure at 1112 Hadtner Ave. when firefighters arrived on the scene about 7:55 p.m.

One of the tenants, Joseph Reifsnyder, 61, managed to escape the kitchen fire, but he was treated for smoke inhalation initially at the scene by paramedics and then taken to the UPMC Susquehanna Williamsport Regional Medical Center for further treatment. He was later discharged.

The two other tenants, Charles Johnson and Chester Griffin, were not home at the time, Aungst said.

When Reifsnyder discovered the fire, flames from a cooking pan of oil already had extended to above cabinets and were spreading across the kitchen ceiling, Aungst said.

Fire Chief Todd Heckman said heat and fire blew out a kitchen window before firefighters arrived on the scene. Once the window was blown out, “the fire went in all directions” throughout the home, he said.

Firefighters had the fire extinguished in a matter of minutes, but volunteer firefiighters called to the scene assisted with an extensive “overhaul” operation that involved tearing apart walls and dousing hot spots.

None of the tenants had renter’s insurance, but the owner, Dorothy Unangst, of Perkasie, Bucks County, did have insurance, investigators said.

Structural damage was set at $68,000 and the estimated loss to contents was another $20,000, Aungst said. The local chapter of the American Red Cross is was assisting the displaced tenants.

In another matter, involving Griffin, the 50-year-old man was arrested Monday afternoon by the county’s Narcotics Enforcement Unit for allegedly selling cocaine to a confidential informant on four occasions between June 12 and July 2, according to court records filed at the office of District Judge Allen P. Page III.

Three of the alleged sales occurred in the city — the 500 block of East Third Street, the 300 block of Memorial Avenue and the 2600 block of Dove Street — while another sale took place in the 1900 block of Princeton Avenue in Old Lycoming Township, investigators said.

Following his arraignment, Griffin was released on $50,000 bail.