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Donations collected for families affected by fire at Pineford

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 12/27/17

For the second time in less than two years, the Middletown community has rallied to come to the rescue of people made homeless by a fire in Pineford.

Fire broke out in the 3100 block of Pineford …

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Donations collected for families affected by fire at Pineford

Posted

For the second time in less than two years, the Middletown community has rallied to come to the rescue of people made homeless by a fire in Pineford.

Fire broke out in the 3100 block of Pineford Drive just before 2 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 20, affecting a row of eight townhouses, according to officials with the Middletown Volunteer Fire Department.

Nearly 50 firefighters responded to the blaze, including those from multiple other jurisdictions. Firefighters needed about 25 minutes to bring the fire under control, but remained on scene until close to 4:30 a.m.

Two families — 7 people total — were displaced from the two units in the middle of the row that received the most damage. One of the families is a couple. The other is a family of five with three small children — boy and girl twins both 1 year old, and a 3-year-old boy.

The night of the fire, the Middletown Police Department launched a drive to collect donations of toys, clothes, and other items at the station, so that the children would have presents under the tree to open for Christmas. Donations of gift cards had been encouraged for the four displaced adults.

Council Vice President Dawn Knull, who was collecting items for the children and adults when the police station was not open to the public, told the Press & Journal on Dec. 22 that she had already dropped off “a trunkload” of donated diapers, clothes, and food to the families as of Thursday night, Dec. 21. She knew of more goodies on the way.

Donations are no longer being accepted for the residents displaced by the fire.

It was all reminiscent of last year. On April 3, 2016, one of the largest fires in recent Middletown history occurred at Pineford. The blaze caused an estimated $8 million damage and destroyed a five-story, 80-unit apartment structure. About 60 people were displaced. On April 18, 2016, officials announced the cause was careless smoking.

Social media spread the word in the case of that fire, and before firefighters had even left the scene donations of clothes, toys, food and other items were piling up in the MCSO building next to Borough Hall.

The two families displaced by the Dec. 20 fire were both awoken by smoke detectors. Otherwise, things could have been much worse, said Middletown Deputy Chief Chris Coble.

The fire department on its Facebook page credited working smoke detectors with having “saved several families and prevented any civilian or firefighter injuries.”

Damage to the six other units was limited to smoke damage, Coble said. The people living in these six units are displaced temporarily, but just until the odor was cleared out, he said.

Coble had no damage estimates, but said he expects that the two most damaged units can be rebuilt.

The Red Cross is assisting all the families. The owners of Pineford are “doing what they can to relocate” the displaced families elsewhere within the rental community, Coble said.

The fire was accidental and the Dauphin County fire marshal is investigating to determine the cause, Coble said.

The fire is believed to have started in the area of a furnace in one of the two most damaged units, Coble said.

The family had been having “issues” with the furnace. But Coble had not yet had a chance to consult with the  fire marshal regarding the role the furnace may have played.