By Jonathan Weaver
The American Red Cross is assisting a Manor Township family whose house was destroyed in a fire yesterday afternoon.
The fire started about 4:15PM at 114 Iseman Hill Road – a dead-end street off of Stitt Hollow Road – in Manor Township.
Homeowners Chris Fetterman and wife, Christi, were traveling to his mother’s house in Vandergrift when they were notified of the fire and were not injured, nor were their sons.
“Everything was completely fine when we left,” Fetterman said. “I have no idea what happened. My dryer quit working, so we figured we would just go down to my mom’s to do the laundry.”
Fetterman found about the fire through his son’s social media account.
“Actually, I learned about it through Facebook. The neighbor girl (messaged) my son and it said ‘Your house is on fire’ and I said ‘What? You’re kidding me.’ They sent a picture and I was like, ‘We gotta go.’”
The message and photo was sent by Tiffany Iseman, a student at Ford City High School and Lenape Tech in Manor Township, to Fetterman’s son, Brendan. Iseman, of downtown Ford City, was visiting her grandparents, Alvin and Sally “Kathy” Iseman, next door.
“We didn’t know any other way to get a hold of them. I figured if nothing else, I took pictures to show them,” Tiffany said. “I’ve been friends with Brendan since before kindergarten.”
The pair sat below a large tree with other family members watching firefighters battle the blaze.
“I don’t know what I would do if I lost everything,” Kathy said between tears. “I know they weren’t gone five minutes.”
Son Tom Iseman, his fiancée Cecilia Pegg and pit bull, Maya, live downstairs of the Iseman home and were nervous the fire could spread to their house via a pine tree.
“We just came here– I brought them some frozen pierogies and brought some downstairs, was getting ready to cook them and Dad said about the smoke – you could see it coming out of the upper-windows – asked if the kids were playing with smoke bombs or something. I said ‘No, that’s a fire.’ So we got on the phone right away,” Tom said.
Tom and Cecilia tried to battle the flames with a garden hose from their yard, spraying the upper windows and attempting to reach the front porch.
“You could hear popping everywhere,” Tom said. “It’s a nice neighborhood – they need help, we help them out; we need help, they’re here to help us out.
“It’s really sad.”
Smoke also quickly filled the neighboring residence, so they closed all the windows, a baby out of the residence to a ventilated vehicle and took pet cats downstairs. Nobody was injured.
Manor Township Assistant Fire Chief Chad Evans led the attack, and said Fetterman told him of electrical problems scattered throughout the house – likely the cause of the fire.
“We’re 99 percent sure it was electrical,” Assistant Chief Evans said. “They were fumigating the house at the time, so with the aerosol, that could’ve increased the fire.
“The house was a total loss.”
Assistant Chief Evans said firefighters contended with water problems (due to only one fire hydrant in the vicinity and the next-closest being about 1,400 feet away) and access issues.
“Access was very poor – with the second floor totally gone, there was no way we could gain access other than getting on the roof of the first floor,” Assistant Chief Evans said.
Firefighters sprayed water into the second floor and entered the residence by cutting a hole in the upstairs with a chainsaw and axe. Firefighters eventually cut through the top roof.
Manor Township Police Officer Cippel interviewed Fetterman for the incident report, but was also on-scene in case he was needed for assistance.
“Anything I can do for these guys, that’s why I’m here,” Officer Cippel said.
The initial dispatch was for fire response by Manor Township, Ford Cliff and Ford City, but after it was a confirmed working structure fire, Kittanning Hose Company #1, #4 and the Rapid Intervention Team from Kittanning Hose Company #6 along with Kittanning Township and Rayburn Township were activated for increased manpower.
Kittanning Hose Company #6 and multiple Ford City EMS crews set-up a rehabilitation tent area away from the residence.
Fire crews from Bethel Township, Freeport and Rural Valley were among those covering other incidents for firefighters who responded yesterday afternoon.
The family has homeowner’s insurance, but Fetterman was worried it might not cover family mementos.
The Fettermans lived in that residence since 2004.
About 11:15PM, 9-1-1 dispatchers alerted the initial three responding fire companies of a rekindle at the site. Ford Cliff volunteers responded to the scene and reported smoke during their 45 minute response.
Fire crews were also alerted to a rekindle early this morning.