CHESTER - Nine units from four fire departments responded to a blaze that swept through a home on Happy Hollow Drive in Chester on Wednesday afternoon, sending one man to the hospital for burns and smoke inhalation.
Fred Cheuvront, 64, was taken by Chester-Newell Ambulance to East Liverpool City Hospital with second-degree burns to his face, hands and legs before being flown to the West Penn Burn Center in Pittsburgh, where he remains in stable condition. Speaking from the hospital via phone, his wife Donna said that Fred was awake and breathing on his own.
Donna was at work when the fire broke out shortly after 11 a.m. The couple had a wood-burning stove that they used for heating the house. "He was fixing the fire and something happened, I'm not sure what," she said.
Crews from Lawrenceville, Newell, New Cumberland and New Manchester fire departments worked Wednesday afternoon to extinguish a blaze that roared through a home on Happy Hollow Drive in Chester. A wood-burning stove is the suspected cause of the fire. (Photo by Richard Sberna)
New Manchester Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Chief Chad Lamp confirmed that the fire started in the back of the house, where the wood-burner was located. Though they haven't determined what caused the inferno, there are no signs of foul play.
Todd Wolfe, a member of the Newell Volunteer Fire Department, happened to be driving past when he saw the smoke. Although no flames were visible from the road, the house was obviously on fire. "There was heavy smoke coming out of everywhere, from the eaves, the windows, the doors," he said.
Wolfe drove up the long driveway to the home, where he says he found Cheuvront standing on the front porch in a daze with his arms, legs and face badly scorched, and the tail of his shirt burned. Wolfe says he led Cheuvront down the steps and away from the house, then called 911.
Lawrenceville, Newell, New Cumberland and New Manchester fire departments all responded. "I believe we had a pumper and tanker from each department," Lamp said. Fire crews from Chester, Oakland and Hanover Township in Pennsylvania were on standby as well.
Lamp said this is the time of year, with the weather getting colder that, these kind of fires become more commonplace. "A lot of people are turning to wood-burners because it cuts down on the utility bills," he said.
Neighbor Vance Johnson, who was doing chores in his home at the time, said he didn't notice anything until the fire trucks arrived. He recalled seeing ambulance crews park near the bottom of the steep, rocky driveway, electing to carry Cheuvront down from the house by stretcher instead. "I'm sure that was probably pretty rough," he said.
With the house a total loss, Donna Cheuvront said she wasn't sure where she was going to stay. Concentrating on her husband's recovery was her top priority for now. "Got to get through this first," she said.