NEWS

Fire erupts Friday afternoon in Greencastle home; pets die

PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot
One firefighter on the roof and another coming through a hole in the roof talk while a search is made for the source of smoke coming from the house at 34 W. Dahlgren St. Friday afternoon.

An electrical short in a kitchen ceiling recessed light is attributed as the cause of a house fire that displaced a family of five. Josh and Amanda Delauter and their children, Benjamin, 11, Faith, 10, and Matthew, 4, will live with relatives as they recover from the loss.

The fire was reported at 3:23 p.m. Friday at 34 W. Dahlgren St. Rescue Hose Company responded to find smoke and a visible fire in the rear of the two-story residence. The fire was out within 30 minutes and crews remained on the scene for 90 minutes to make sure it had not spread.

RHC chief Kevin Barnes said damage was major and the cause was not suspicious.

The department was assisted by fire companies from Marion, Maugansville, Long Meadow, Waynesboro and Leitersburg, and Washington County Air Unit and Special Operations.

Just minutes

Josh Delauter was at work. He said his wife was at the school bus stop when a gentleman who lived with them called her to say he noticed a strange odor. She sent neighbor Jesse Cline to investigate. Cline realized a fire was starting, called 911, and evacuated the man and as many pets as he could find. One cat and eight dogs were rescued. The adults were a Chihuahua, basset, boxer-shepherd and boxer-mastiff. Four of the animals were Chihuahua puppies.

The family lost the Chihuahua mother and two puppies, as well as seven cats.

"I thank the Lord my neighbor got the big dogs out," said Delauter.

The fire marshall had been out to examine the rubble and make the ruling, Delauter said, and a cleaning company had determined it could salvage only a few items. While the structure was insured, the contents were not, he said.

The back of the house, the kitchen and half of Faith's bedroom were destroyed, Delauter said. The rest of the house was damaged by smoke, heat and water.

"I am eternally grateful to the Rescue Hose Company and the rest of the departments who saved some of the house," he said.

The five were assisted by the American Red Cross with housing for the weekend, and then moved in with Delauter's parents across the street.

"We'll rebuild the house and come back stronger than we were before," he stated. "I want to finish raising my kids in it."