The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

February 29, 2008

House fire claims life of Grove City woman

GROVE CITY — An early morning inferno on a quiet Grove City street killed a woman, injured two firefighters and reduced a two-story duplex to charred rubble.

Patricia Andrews-Smith, 40, Grove City, was killed in the blaze. The fire is under investigation by a state police fire marshal and Grove City police.

Pine Township volunteer firefighters Brad Holmes and Scott King were flown to the burn unit of UPMC Mercy in Pittsburgh, the Associated Press said. King was discharged later in the day but Holmes was in critical condition, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Neighbors said the fire started around 6 a.m. Firefighters arrived at 132 Garden Ave., but fire hydrants were frozen and they had to call for tanker backup.

“This was a bad one,” said Grove City Fire Chief Jeff Badger. He said firefighters went into the house to search for victims but the fire forced them out.

Neighbor Bonnie Schaefer said when she looked out the window she saw the house burning “like a cracker box.” The two-story, wood-frame home had collapsed by 9:30 a.m.

Mrs. Schaefer said two families lived in the duplex — Mrs. Andrews-Smith with her husband Larry Smith on one side and a mother with her mildly autistic son on the other. She said she knows the mother and son and they are safe, staying elsewhere with family.

She also said someone overheard Larry Smith saying Mrs. Andrews-Smith managed to get out of the house at first, but went back in after a dog.

“She was out and then she ran back in. She shouldn’t have done that,” Mrs. Schaefer said. Police would not comment Friday on the report that Mrs. Andrews-Smith had gone back in for a pet. They said they aren’t releasing details on the fire until the fire marshal is done investigating.

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