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Update: Lower Providence House Fire Ruled Accidental

Homeowner had minor burns on his hand; family escaped otherwise unharmed.

The following information was released by Lower Providence Township:

On Tuesday, Jan. 10, a team of investigators conducted an origin and cause investigation at the 2011 Windsor Drive home, Lower Providence, that was severely damaged by a blaze Monday night.

 The fire is determined to be accidental at this time, with the origin in the laundry room related to an electrical event.

Participants were from the Lower Providence Fire Marshal’s Office, the Lower Providence Police Department, Lower Providence Volunteer Fire Company, Montgomery County Detective’s Bureau and the PA State Police.

On Monday, Jan. 9, at 7:20 p.m., Montgomery County Emergency Dispatch Services received a 911 call from a 17-year-old resident of 2011 Windsor Drive, Lower Providence Township who reported the dryer was on fire inside the residence. The call was immediately followed by a second 911 call from a next door neighbor reporting the neighbor’s house was on fire.

Lower Providence Township Volunteer Fire Company and Collegeville Fire Company were dispatched, along with Lower Providence Township Police and EMS. Norristown and Jeffersonville Fire Companies were summoned to assist as well.

Lower Providence Township Police Corporal Michael Slattery arrived at the residence within four minutes to find the 53-year-old father and 17-year-old daughter outside the residence with their three canines. Cpl. Slattery said the overhead garage door was open and he could observe heavy fire in the laundry room off the garage. Upon arrival of fire apparatus, fire had spread upwards into the second floor and across into the garage, reaching a vehicle parked in the driveway.

Lower Providence Township Fire Marshal, Charles DeFrangesco, interviewed the residents. The father reported he had been doing wash for approximately 30-45 minutes when he heard a pop sound coming from the laundry room. Upon investigation, he initially observed smoke coming from behind the side-by-side washer & dryer. He used one extinguisher and believed he had extinguished the fire. After alerting his daughter, they both started to overhaul the area and opened doors and windows. They also started two fans in an attempt to extract the smoke from the residence. At some point after that, the father returned to the laundry room to find the fire had spread up the wall and across the ceiling of the laundry room. It was at this point, the daughter called 911 to report the fire.

Under the Command of Lower Providence Fire Chief, Bryan McFarland, the fire was brought under control in one hour, 20 minutes, utilizing nine fire apparatus and 45 personnel. Crews continued to overhaul and clean-up until 12:30 am.

The owner received burns to his left hand that did not require treatment. There were no injuries to fire personnel. The Residence was insured for over $660,000.00 (structure and contents) and received major damage.

PECO responded to secure the utilities, while the American Red Cross Western Montgomery County Disaster Action Team responded to assist the residents with lodging and Total Restoration of Royersford responded to secure the residence.

Previous version:

A fire that is believed to have started in a laundry room destroyed a 2 1/2 story single family home in the Collegeville section of Lower Providence on Monday night.

There were no injuries as a result of the fire, which displaced three people and their three dogs from the house at 2011 Windsor Drive. The American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania said on its Twitter feed late Monday night that it was assisting the residents of the home.

Lower Providence Fire Marshal Charlie DeFrangesco said that the male owner of the home and his 17-year-old daughter were home at the time when the fire started, along with the family's three dogs. The girl's mother was at work.

DeFrangesco said that several minutes after starting a load of laundry, the man heard loud "popping" noises coming from the area of the clothes dryer. He said that the man attempted to stop the fire with a fire extinguisher but was unsuccessful. 

The man then got his daughter and three dogs out of the home. There were no reported injuries at the scene. A 9-1-1 call came in simultaneously from the daughter's cell phone and a neighbor at 2010 Windsor Drive, immediately to the right of the home (as viewed from the street).

The home at 2010 Windsor sustained damage to its siding from the heat of the fire. The two homes share a driveway. A SUV parked outside 2011 caught fire and appeared to have sustained heavy damage. The car outside 2010 was also damaged by the fire, but appeared salvageable. 

The deputy fire marshal was the first on the scene, according to DeFrangesco. Heavy fire was coming from the garage area, and soon spread to the rest of the dwelling.

DeFrangesco was not prepared to call the dryer the cause of the fire, pending further investigation of the scene.

Fire crews were overhauling the fire scene late Monday night to prevent it from rekindling.

Lower Providence Fire Department was assisted at the scene by Norristown Fire Company, Jefferson Fire Company, Collegeville Fire Company, Plymouth Ambulance, and Lower Providence Ambulance.

According to Montgomery County property records, the home was purchased in 1999 by Joseph F. and Gloria S. O'Brien.

Earlier story and updates below.

Update 9:23 p.m.: Lower Providence Fire Marshall Charlie DeFrangesco said that the fire scene is currently being overhauled.

DeFrangesco said that the male owner of the home and his 17-year-old daughter were home at the time of the fire's start, along with the family's three dogs. The girl's mother was at work.

The man was reportedly doing laundry when he heard a large "pop" coming from the area of the clothes dryer. He said that the man attempted to stop the fire with a fire extinguisher but was unsucessful. 

The man then got his daughter and three dogs out of the home. There were no reported injuries at the scene. A 9-1-1 call came in simultaneously from the daughter's cell phone and a neighbor at 2010 Windsor Drive, immediately to the right of the home (as viewed from the street).

The home at 2010 Windsor sustained to its siding from the heat of the fire. The two homes share a driveway, and in addition to the family's SUV (previously reported below), the car owned by residents at 2010 was also damaged by the fire, but appears salvageable. 

The deputy fire marshal was the first on the scene, according to DeFrangesco. Heavy fire was comign from the garage area, and soon spread to the rest of the dwelling.

The marshall was not prepared to call the dryer the official cause, as an investigation will follow on Tuesday.

Update 9:08 p.m.: While reports are calling "the bulk of the fire is knocked down," crews continue to search for hot spots in the interior of the home. Crews are also using flashlights to now review the roof, as well.

Update 8:49 p.m.: The home at 2011 Windsor Drive still burns, with flames visible from the tips of the attic. More than half of the roof is gone from the home. It appears from the road to be totally gutted, front and back.

The home is being lit by the fire crews' exterior lighting, and most of its interior is destroyed. A ladder truck, with a boom, is also assisting crews. Approixmately half a dozen firefighters remain in the home, searching with flashlights and pulling down remaining wall board.

The car in the home's driveway appears to have also been destroyed by the fire. The SUV has no remaining windows and was gutted by flames.

The fire does not seem to have spread, as earlier reports indicated, to nearby neighbors' homes.

Fire companies from Lower Providence Fire Department, Lower Providence Ambulance, Lower Providence Emergency Management, Collegeville Fire Co., Norristown Fire Department, Norristown Fairmount and Jefferson Fire Company are reporting at the scene.

Patch reporters are awaiting additional word from the scene's chief. Updates will be provided as available. 

The previously posted story is below:

Fire crews are battling a fire that has fully engulfed a single-family home off North Grange Avenue in Collegeville, in a portion of Lower Providence Township. The crews were called at approximately 7:28 p.m., to 2011 Windsor Drive. A second alarm was later requested.

The fire has since spread to a vehicle located in the driveway of the home. Reports from workers on the scene also note that a neighbor's home may be in danger, as well. PECO gas and electric work crews have been requested at the scene.

The fire reportedly started in a clothes dryer. The two-and-a-half-story, detached home has reportedly been evacuated.

Patch reporters are en route to the scene and will provide updates as they become available.

Linda G January 12, 2012 at 12:03 AM
I don't know what to say to let this family (dogs included) know how I feel for them and would like to help if we can. They have lost everything but luckily, have their lives and each other.
Leigh Barnes January 12, 2012 at 01:53 AM
Thanks PV Patch for mentioning Total Restoration Contracting in this article. With us on the sceen we bring relief to the home owner and the community. We are a hard working local company that is there for you 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Thanks again, Total Restoration Contracting
Dan January 12, 2012 at 04:01 PM
I just want to say, as a firefighter who responded to that call I am sorry about your loss and hope you all find a way to move forward.

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