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Fire destroys home in Somerset Township

August 29, 2018

Esther Weyand-Landis was sitting at her computer while her hamburgers cooked on the stove when she began to smell burning plastic. Feeling her foot becoming warm, she looked down and saw that the outlet had caught fire. She jumped up, which scared one of her three dogs. The dog knocked over a cushion and that caught fire.

“I just got the hell out,” she said. “I’ve lived here 35 years. I had an action plan in place.”

The fire consumed and destroyed her home, located at 984 S. Center Ave. in Somerset. The home was insured. Firefighters were dispatched at 10:47 a.m. Tuesday. Sean Ibinson, second assistant chief with the Somerset Volunteer Fire Department, said it was fully involved by the time his crew arrived. It took firefighters at least 20 minutes to knock down the blaze. He was uncertain as to what caused it, though he said the fire marshal was called. Ibinson doesn’t suspect foul play. Though the water source from the local hydrant was not an issue, Ibinson said they didn’t have enough firefighters on scene.

“I wish we had more manpower,” Ibinson said. “I wish we had more volunteers. It’s getting harder and harder.”

About 20 to 25 firefighters were there. In addition to Somerset, fire trucks from Rockwood, Berlin and New Centerville came to the scene. Somerset Area Ambulance and Somerset Borough police were there, too.

Dorothy Emert, who lives up the road and knows both Weyand-Landis and co-owner Jacob Landis, said she watched as the fire grew out of control.

“It really got going,” Emert said. “We got chased away by officers because it was too smoky. They thought it was too dangerous.”

The American Red Cross was called and something is being set up to help the family. The scene was cleared at 12:44 p.m.

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