Four people were left homeless Monday afternoon when fire destroyed two adjacent homes in the 1200 block of Pennsylvania Avenue in Morrellville.
Two other homes – one on each side of the destroyed homes – were damaged. Each of the four homes is separated by not more than a few feet.
A mother and her 18-month-old daughter living in one of the destroyed homes got out safely, and a man living in the other destroyed home was able to get his two miniature dachshunds out safely.
The four-alarm blaze, reported just before 3:30, brought out all available manpower from the Johnstown Fire Department as well as firefighters from the West Hills Regional and Richland Township fire departments.
Bryan Sisco, who lives in one of the destroyed homes, said he had come home from work and left his two dachshunds out.
He said he put the dogs back in the kitchen and jumped on his motorcycle to go pay his water bill when his neighbor, who lived in the other destroyed home, told him that his house was on fire.
“I called 911 and ran back into the house and got my two dogs out,” Sisco said.
He said he was glad his neighbors got out safely.
“They’re nice people,” he said.
Shawn Liptak, who lives in one of the destroyed homes with his fiancee, Erin Lozanoff, and their 18-month-old daughter, Leah, was cutting the grass of a neighbor when the fire started.
He said he heard his fiancee yelling that flames were coming from their neighbor’s home.
“I ran into my house to get some of the baby’s things out and whatever else I could,” he said.
“It just went up really quickly. A minute later, both houses were up in flames.
“I just regrouped with my family to make sure they were OK, and they were.
“You never think it will happen to you, and then it does.
“Firefighters responded really quick and got help from Westmont and Richland. They did a good job.”
Richard Slezak, who lives on the other side of Sisco, was on his porch when the fire started.
“I’m glad everybody and the pets got out safely,” he said.
Ernie Boring, who lives nearby, said he and his teenage son, James, were returning from visiting his parents when they saw smoke.
“We came down to see what was going on and to make sure no one was in the homes,” he said.
“We when came down, we were told that everyone was out of the homes.”
James said that he was looking out the car window when he saw the smoke.
“All three houses were on fire,” he said.
Firefighters did a good job of battling the blaze, he said.
“There were so many firefighters and police there,” he said.
“We’re lucky to have them.”
Phil Liptak, an uncle of Shawn Liptak, said one of the little neighbor girls smelled smoke and thought someone was having a cookout.
“When she got closer, she saw that the house was on fire and yelled for Erin (his nephew’s fiancee) and the baby to get out,” he said.
He said his nephew and fiancee had rented the house recently and did not have renter’s insurance.
The family was gradually buying the things that they needed and now it is all destroyed, he said.
A retired Johnstown firefighter, Michael Slezak, was in the area and made sure all occupants were out of the burning residences.
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