Firefighters battle blaze

Wellsville home destroyed, two dogs killed

Flames shoot from the upper floor of a Riverside Avenue home in Wellsville where two dogs perished Thursday night despite efforts of three fire departments. (Photo by Jo Ann Bobby-Gilbert)

WELLSVILLE — A fire of as-yet unknown causes took the life of two dogs at a Riverside Avenue home Thursday night, despite efforts by firefighters from three departments.

The home at 1605 Riverside Ave. is owned by Tom Campbell, who had left about an hour before the flames were spotted by neighbor Anthony Pugliano.

According to Pugliano, he smelled smoke and looked out to see flames shooting from the kitchen window of Campbell’s two-story home.

Pugliano responded, and finding no one home, began using water in nearby barrels and old lunchboxes to try and extinguish the blaze, but he said it was too far out of control at that point.

Wellsville firefighters were at Shoub Towers, responding to an alarm drop when the call came at 5:38 p.m. about the Riverside Avenue fire.

Firefighters arrived on the scene and immediately called for mutual aid from Highlandtown and Liverpool Township fire departments when they saw the intensity of the blaze, according to officials.

Highlandtown had an engine en route to Wellsville at the time, with firefighters to attend the calling hours for the father of a Wellsville firefighter.

All three departments sent two engines and multiple firefighters to the scene and battled the fire from the interior and exterior.

As flames shot to the sky, Campbell arrived on the scene and tried to get inside to rescue his two dogs, according to a firefighter, who said while he obviously could not allow Campbell inside, he assured him firefighters would do all they could to save his pets.

The dogs perished, but firefighters carefully wrapped their bodies and lay them outside where Campbell plans to retrieve them, according to Chief Barry Podwel.

At one point as firefighters converged on the interior, they were ordered out of the house due to the instability of the second floor, which later collapsed into the first floor.

Firefighters laid 1,550 feet of hose to battle the blaze, with some of the hose traveling over the Nevada Street train crossing to reach a hydrant, forcing Norfolk-Southern Railroad to halt train traffic until 8:45 p.m. when the lines were able to be removed once the fire was under control.

Podwel said it appears the fire originated in the kitchen, although the cause is not yet known. He intends to continue the investigation today, saying the fire marshal will not be called in.

The house was not insured.

The Salineville Fire Department was on standby for Highlandtown, while Calcutta and Glenmoor were on standby for Liverpool Township as they battled the blaze.