CLARKSTOWN - While volunteer firefighters saved their home, Randy and Doris Arbogast said it was neighbor Jesse Wagner and his wife, Aneta, who saved their lives early Saturday morning when flames quickly consumed the couple's garage, located less than 20 feet from their home on Exchange Road.
"If he just kept going (and didn't see the fire), we would have been dead. He saved our lives," Arbogast said of Wagner during a brief interview Saturday night outside his home at 111 Exchange Road, about three miles east of here, in Moreland Township.
The Arbogasts were awakened about 12:30 a.m. by Wagner pounding on the couple's door.
The Wagners were returning home from a night at the Lycoming County Fair when they saw an orange glow inside the garage as they passed the property.
Initially, Wagner saw a flicker of orange through the garage door.
"It looked like someone was welding, but we figured it was too late for anyone to be welding at that hour so we turned around and came back down. By then, that's when we discovered the fire," Wagner, a truck driver, said.
"Suddenly there were flames coming out from underneath the roof," Wagner said. Using his cellphone, he called 911.
Parked in the driveway between the blazing garage and the couple's garage was their car and pickup truck.
After alerting the Arbogasts, Wagner grabbed a garden hose and started pouring water on the inferno as his wife, using keys the Arbogasts gave her, began moving the vehicles out of the driveway.
The garden hose was of little help, Wagner admitted.
"There was nothing we could do. We started pouring water on the house, but it just got too hot. It was so hot it was unreal," Wagner said.
When Muncy Area firefighters first arrived on the scene, they directed their efforts on saving the home by dousing water on the property. The siding on the house was already melting.
"I believe if another minute has passed, the house would have been on fire," Arbogast, an employee at Kellogg Co. on Industrial Park Road, said.
Muncy Area Assistant Fire Chief Greg Delany said firefighters racing to the scene could see an orange glow in the ski about a mile away.
Within 10 minutes after volunteers started arriving, the two-story garage began to collapse, Delany said.
Assisting as the scene were firefighters from Hughesville, Picture Rocks, Montgomery and Clinton Township. There were no reports of injuries.
Firefighters had the bulk of the fire extinguished in about 30 minutes. The cause of the fire was believed to be electrical in nature, Delany said. Damage was estimated at about $45,000, and Arbogast said he had insurance on the building, which he used to store "tools and equipment."