PICTURE ROCKS - A working smoke alarm is credited with saving the life of a man and a woman who were awakened by the alarm early Tuesday morning and found their home on Roaring Run Road on fire.
"The smoke detector made the difference," Picture Rocks Fire Chief Al Little said.
Both Scott Baker and Janet Berard safely escaped the two-story structure at 2816 Roaring Run Road in Shrewsbury Township about 12:30 a.m.
Because there is no cellphone service in the area, Berard jumped in the couple's pickup truck and drove toward the firehouse on Main Street. As she got closer to the borough, she was able to get cell service and place a call to 911.
Firefighters, manning their station because of Hurricane Sandy, were out the door once the call was dispatched over their fire radios but were hampered in reaching the scene because downed trees blocked part of the remote one-lane road.
"Trees were down everywhere," Little said "We pushed some trees out of the way and drove over others with a couple our trucks. We had to stop for one big one that we had to cut with a chain saw ... to get through."
Baker, wearing no shoes, managed to get two all-terrain vehicles, two motorcycles and a car out of the couple's garage about 25 feet from the burning home, Little said.
With the very narrow roads, getting water to the home was a big problem.
Firefighters from Pictures Rocks, Hughesville, Muncy Area and Muncy Valley were dispatched on the initial alarm.
By 1 a.m., Little had called for additional tankers, one from as far away as Mildred and another from Loyalsock Township. Firefighters from Lairdsville, Pennsdale and Eagles Mere also responded.
Firefighters shuttled water to the scene from a hydrant in Hughesville.
There were no reports of injuries.
During the fire, a fire truck from Muncy Area moved to the Picture Rocks fire station to handle other emergency calls.
The house was a total loss, with a damage estimate of $60,000 and another $60,000 for personal possessions.
Baker and Berard have rented the house for several years from Andrew and Joan McNally, of Dushore. The displaced couple, who were receiving emergency assistance from the local chapter of the American Red Cross, have renter's insurance. The McNallys have fire insurance.
Speaking outside the home on Tuesday afternoon, McNally said he built the house in the 1970s for his mother.
While inspecting the ruins, the couple rescued one of two kittens that popped out from under the rubble. The other kitten ran back under the house.
Little said a state police fire marshal investigated the scene Tuesday morning.
However, he said the cause of the blaze, which started in the kitchen, may remain unknown because of the extensive amount of destruction.