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House fire spurs neighborhood evacuation in Bath

By Bo Koltnow, Reporter, BKoltnow@wfmz.com
69 News, (follow: @69news), news@wfmz.com
Published On: Mar 03 2014 08:22:01 AM CST
Updated On: Mar 03 2014 05:03:34 PM CST

A fire chases dozens of residents from their homes in Northampton County.

BATH, Pa. -

A house fire chased dozens of residents from their homes in Northampton County Monday morning.

The fire broke out just before  9:30 a.m. Monday at 128 S. Chestnut St. in Bath.

One man and two dogs were rescued.

Thick clouds of black smoke billowing out of the home proved to be too much at times for firefighters battling the blaze. Fire trucks had to blast horns in  a temporary call to retreat.

"Nothing but smoke, can't see your hand in front of your face,"  said Hecktown Fire Captain Mark Suhr.

Crews used thermal imaging systems and air tanks to fight through the smoke.

The borough shut off power to the street and more than 100 neighbors were evacuated.  Wolf Elementary served as a temporary shelter. Residents were allowed back into their homes after power was restored later in the afternoon.

Dozens of fire trucks from around the region responded to the blaze.

Officials are calling the fire suspicious. They said it started in the basement of the home and quickly spread.

John Briele, the male rescued from the home, told investigators the fire started when he turned on an overhead exhaust fan while cleaning motorcycle parts in the basement, using an aerosol brake cleaner.

Investigators don't believe Briele's story.

A state fire marshal will be investigating the cause. Fire marshals are involved only when there is a death -- there were none at this fire -- or when the cause is suspicious.

Monetary donations are being accepted for the Briele family, who lived in the home.
The family has six children.

Donations can be mailed to:

Christ Church of Bath UCC
109 South Chestnut Street
Bath Pa. 18014

Information about donating also is available on Facebook.

The  Brieles are members of the church and Mrs. Briele volunteers at its food bank.

Anyone interested in donating other items such as furniture or clothing should contact Jeannie Wagner at jeannie.wagner@rcn.com