Family of 5 left homeless after house fire in Westfield

WESTFIELD – A family of five was left homeless Wednesday afternoon when a multiple-alarm fire extensively damaged their Mill Street home, according to Crary Hose Fire Co. Chief Jeff Abbott.

A state police fire marshal from the Montoursville barracks was expected to be at the scene this morning, trying to determine what caused the fire at the 223 Mill St. home of Ruthann Sweet.

Sweet lived at the century-old, two-story home with James Carpenter, William King Sr. and her two sons, Jerry and Jeff Sweet, Abbott said.

There were no reports of injuries.

Carpenter and Jerry Sweet were the only ones home when a fire in the attic was discovered about 1 p.m., and both safely escaped.

There appeared to be nothing suspicious about the fire, Abbott said.

“There was smoke coming out from under the eaves when firefighters arrived on the scene,” Abbott said.

Firefighters quickly donned self-contained breathing apparatus and stretched hoses through the front door.

“There was nothing but very light smoke on the first and second floors. However, through an access door, we could see fire inside the attic,” Abbott explained.

In addition to Crary Hose, firefighters from Sabinsville, Knoxville, Harrison Township and Coudersport help battle the fire, which took two hours to bring under control, Abbott said.

It was very difficult for firefighters to reach the attic and ventilate the structure because of the double-layered tin roof on the house, Abbott said.

A crew from Coudersport’s aerial truck was able to finally reach the fire after cutting holes in the roof with a power saw.

Even after the fire was brought under control, firefighters spent the remainder of the afternoon dousing hot spots.

With temperatures ranging in the mid-teens, much of Mill Street was very slippery as runoff water from hoses quickly turned to ice, Abbott said.

“There was a lot of ice on the street,” he said.

Fire crews got rested and warmed up by rotating in and out of Crary Hose’s walk-in rescue truck. The local chapter of the American Red Cross was on the scene and provided emergency assistance to the displaced family, who is staying with relatives, Abbott said.

Fire damage was estimated to be at least $75,000, Abbott said, adding that Ruthann Sweet had fire insurance.