Fire consumed Jeff and Diane Stoudt’s Robeson Township home, as well as their possessions on March 23. A community collection has been set up for the family.
“The home is totally destroyed as the second floor and roof collapsed within the first 10 minutes of the fire,” said Geigertown Fire Company Assistant Chief Scott Gullo who was at the scene the day of the fire and the following day with Trooper Yeity, State Police Fire Marshal, investigating the cause, on Monday, March 24.
“He has not made a final ruling, but when I left he was almost certain the fire began somewhere around the chimney in the walls of the living room and spread upward to the second floor. It definitely did not start on the porch, the neighbor may have seen fire through the multiple windows in that corner of the home and mistook it for being on the porch. It is not suspicious and it will be ruled accidental.”
Fire crews were dispatched to a porch fire at 12:54 p.m. the 400 block of Weaver Road, Robeson Township.
“A neighbor returning home spotted a fire which he believed to be on the front porch,” wrote Gullo in an email interview. “He parked and walked over to look and at that time the fire had spread into the second floor and part of the roof.”
He said Berks County Communications noted they received multiple calls reporting a house fire within minutes of the first call.
Gullo said the fire went to a second alarm, bringing more tankers and manpower to the scene. A water supply was setup at the pond at Weaver’s Orchard, and tankers ran water shuttles from there to the scene.
“Geigertown, Gibraltar, Twin Valley, Brecknock and Birdsboro-Union Fire Departments responded to the scene covering both alarms. There were multiple other companies placed on standby at those stations to cover their trucks being out,” said Gullo.
There were no injuries.
“The homeowner’s son was in the basement and was able to escape with his dog, as well as her daughter on the 2nd floor. There were three other dogs in the home that did not survive the fire,” reported Gullo.
While the home was totally destroyed, Gullo said the contents of the basement were saved as the first floor did not collapse, however there is heavy water and smoke damage in that area.
“The quick attack on the fire by first in crews and the mutual aid companies all working together quickly and efficiently to setup an operation where we never ran out of water, allowed us to stop the fire before the first floor was able to drop into the basement. This saved a lot of the homeowners’ possessions and preserved the home’s foundation,” said Gullo.
The challenges of this fire included that the entire home was constructed of wood, said Gullo.
“This allowed the fire to quickly spread and provided it with plenty of fuel. Once the initial knockdown of the fire occurred, we switched to a foam operation. By foaming the fire, it suffocates any hot spots and creates a foam layer which reduces the chances for a flare-up from winds and hot spots.”
Fire crews were on scene for more than five hours.
“A majority of that was spent overhauling the structure and removing as much debris as possible to ensure there were no pockets of fire that could re-ignite,” said Gullo.
In a March 24 release, the American Red Cross Berks Chapter reported that the chapter responded to the single-family fire on March 23. The Red Cross provided a family with food and clothing and will continue to provide support and services for the families, as needed.
Donations were collected to help the Stoudt family.
According to the Geigertown Fire Company website, “To help organize the overwhelming response from the community with donations, the Geigertown Fire Company assisted the family by opening their doors on two separate times as a central collection point for any and all donation drop-offs. We had people on-site to help organize and ensure the family gets everything delivered to them. We had worked with their family members and compiled a list of needs and specific requests from the family. They appreciated the support that was given and they are overwhelmed by the support they have already received.”
Donations were accepted at the Geigertown Fire Company, 3433 Hay Creek Road, Geigertown, Saturday, March 29 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Monday, March 31 from 5 to 9 p.m.
A relief fund has also been setup with National Penn Bank. Cash or check can be dropped off at any National Penn location and directed to the “Stoudt Relief Fund”. Checks, made out to “Stoudt Relief Fund”, may also be mailed to: National Penn Bank, 3697 Main St., Morgantown, PA 19543. These types of donations, following the instructions above, will also be accepted during the two collections dates above at the Geigertown Fire Company.
“Thank you for any help you may provide to the family during this difficult time,” submitted by Gullo.
To donate items after those dates, or if you have any questions or need any further information, please contact Scott Gullo by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
LIST OF ACCEPTABLE DONATIONS
The Stoudt family has requested that we support local businesses for gift cards and items that are donated. These companies have already stepped up to support the family, and they would like to see the community give back to them. Gift cards to any of these locations would be greatly appreciated while the family begins to pick up the pieces and get their lives back to normal.
Preferred Local Businesses
Twin Valley Coffee
Nissley Food Supply
Green Hills Hardware
Eshelman Transportation (Gas Card)
SPECIFIC ITEM NEEDS
Stainless steel coffee thermos
33 x 30 Rustler mens jeans
Mens Briefs Underwear - Size 36
Socks for men, women and 9th grade girl
Size 9 mens shoes
Size 8 womens shoes
Anyone with comments, more information or wish to submit photos of the fire, please email email@example.com.