Investigators declare 3 recent fires accidental

Three of four fires that occurred in the region during a two-day period have been ruled accidental, according to investigators.

The cause of one fire, a blaze that destroyed a mobile home at 3525 Route 14, about two miles north of Trout Run, about 6 p.m. Saturday, will remain undetermined, according to Trout Run Fire Chief Robert Whitford.

Taylor Short lived in the mobile home with her daughter, and neither one was home when the fire was reported by a passerby, Whitford said. The structure was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived on the scene.

Short rented the property from Cody Thomas and his son, Nate, both of Trout Run. While the father-son had fire insurance, Short did not, Whitford said.

It took volunteer firefighters from five communities about 40 minutes to bring the fire under control, Whitford said.

Due to the fire destruction, investigators are unable to determine what ignited the fire, but it not believed to be suspicious, Whitford said. The mother and daughter are staying with friends or relatives.

An effort to drive out a squirrel from a porch ceiling sparked a fire that ended up driving a couple out of their Hillside Avenue home in the city on Saturday afternoon, according to city Fire Chief C. Dean Heinbach.

Anthony Stopper and Nichole Shoemaker were using a gopher pest control heating device on their porch at 2136 Hillside Ave. about 4:15 p.m. when the porch accidentally caught fire, causing an estimated $5,000 damage, Heinbach said.

Stopper, the home owner, has fire insurance, he added.

Concerning yet another fire, the property owner told investigators he had insurance on a barn that was destroyed at 910 Furnace Run Road in Watson Township about 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

The barn and the house on the same property are rental properties, Independent Hose Fire Chief Robert Cowfer said. The renter was using cutting tools on his tractor inside the barn when the vehicle accidentally caught fire. Within minutes, the fire spread from the tractor to the entire barn, which was a total loss.

The identities of the property owner and renter were not released.

Woodward Township Fire Chief Richard Whalen said the cause of a fire that destroyed Steve Welshans’ mobile home at 6235 Route 220 on Friday has been ruled electrical in nature. Damage was estimated at $80,000, he added.