Cause of Montoursville house fire not yet known

As two displaced Montoursville families are looking for new housing, a state police fire marshal was expected to visit the scene of Saturday night’s two alarm fire at 509-511 Broad St. today in an effort to determine the cause of the blaze, which left seven people homeless.

Borough Fire Chief Steve Wilson said investigators are focusing on a propane gas grill on the back porch of the 511 side, where Brandin and Tanya Shafer, along with their 1-year-old son, Owen, lived.

All three, along with a dinner guest, safely escaped the house after the back porch caught fire. Tanya’s mother told the Sun-Gazette that the family believed a propane tank on the porch may have exploded.

Wilson said the cause of the fire remained under investigation but there is nothing suspicious about the blaze at this time.

He said the double home was a total loss. The 509 side was occupied by William and Michelle Dincher and their two daughters, ages 4 and 6. The family was visiting friends two doors away when the fire erupted about 6 p.m.

Contrary to earlier reports, the Dinchers’ family dog, a rottweiler named Harley, was rescued during the fire by Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Hutchins.

“The dog was cold, wet and shaking when I found it in a corner of the dining room,” Hutchins said. He picked up the 45-pound dog and passed it on to another firefighter, who handed the frightened animal over to Dincher.

One of the family’s cats was found alive inside the burned-out home on Sunday morning, Wilson said he was told.

The Shafers had renter’s insurance, but Wilson said he did not believe the Dinchers had such insurance. The families rented from Thomas Bafile, a resident of the borough, who has owned the duplex for many years.

While no damage estimate has been set, the property is a total loss, Wilson said. Also damaged were three vehicles at the back of the house – a Chevy Blazer and Honda Civic, both of which were destroyed, and a Chrysler Town and Country van that sustained moderate damage.