A Montoursville father returning from the barbershop with his two sons on Thursday afternoon arrived home to find flames shooting from the attached garage of the family's property at 1109 Tule St.
Robert Pulizzi Jr. quickly opened the front door, rescuing the family's two dogs, an Irish setter named Gulliver and a Labradoodle named Jackson.
He called 911 to report the blaze as did a neighbor, just before 4 p.m. Pulizzi's wife, Kristen, was not home at the time. The couple's sons are Rocco, 8, and Marco, 7.
PHILIP A. HOLMES/Sun-Gazette
Volunteer firefighters salvage items from a fire-damaged house Thursday in Montoursville. Here, three men carry out a framed jersey of former Pittsburgh Steeler great Jerome Bettis.
Smoke from the garage could be seen as far as the 1900 block of East Third Street.
As volunteer firefighters began arriving on the scene, flames already were spreading across the attic of the attached home.
"Thank God this didn't happen at night," Pulizzi's father, Robert Pulizzi Sr., said as he watched firefighters douse the flames.
Kristen Pulizzi soon arrived on the scene. Many friends and neighbors embraced her, offering her emotional support as she held a bottle of water in one hand.
The blaze broke out just two days before Rocco is to receive his First Communion at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in the borough, Pulizzi Sr. said.
The scheduled communion is going on as planned, Pulizzi Sr. said. A family reception that was to be held at the parents' home now will be held at another relative's home.
In addition to Montoursville, firefighters from Loyalsock Township, the city, Pennsdale, Eldred Township, Montgomery and South Williamsport fought the fire for about 40 minutes before it was brought under control.
After most of the fire was extinguished, firefighters were able to salvage many of the family's treasured photographs and other possessions, including a large framed jersey of former Pittsburgh Steelers player Jerome Bettis.
Borough Fire Chief Steve Wilson said a state police fire marshal was expected to visit the scene today and assist in determining the origin and cause of the fire.
The family is staying with relatives. They had fire insurance.
No damage estimate has been set, but a large section of the roof collapsed during the fire.