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Fatal house fire in St. Marys under investigation

By: Lauren Hensley

ST. MARYS Pa.--- A deadly fire in Elk County has a wife mourning the loss of her husband. Crews estimate 70 firefighters tried to save the man before the house went up in flames. The call of a fire on 500 block of Brusselles Street came in around 3:30 Saturday morning.The home belonged to 77-year-old James Robbins and 69-year-old Joan Robbins.

A fire erupted on the first floor. When emergency responders arrived on scene only Joan Robbins was safely outside of the burning home.

"The people from St. Marys Ambulance could not believe she was standing in front of the house when they got there because of the fact of the multitude of fire," Crystal Fire Department chief, Bill Kraus said. "When they got on scene they couldn't believe she made it out of the house, but she did."

James Robbins was stuck inside and crews were unable to rescue him from the blaze. Kraus said there were several challenges in battling the blaze.

"Every time we thought we had it, it would just break through the roof again and being the fact it was only a 3-story home, we were really hindered in putting ladders up and stuff like that," Kraus said. "And the frigid temperatures really didn't help at all."

Kraus also said there were power lines that toppled to the ground, making fighting the fire extremely difficult and dangerous. According to Kraus, the heat from the blaze was so intense it melted the siding off of one neighbor's home.

The cause of the fire is not known right now but investigators are working to figure out how it happened. The state fire marshal has been called in to investigate. According to State Police, Joan Robbins has moderate injuries.

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times