The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

March 30, 2013

Fire damages Americorps office

By Melissa Klaric
Herald Staff Writer

SHARON — Firefighters were faced with waist-high flames when they entered the Keystone SMILES Americorps office at about 9 p.m. Thursday at 67 Euclid Ave., Sharon.

“Flames were coming out of the pantry up to the second floor just behind the bricks adjacent to the fireplace,” said fire Chief Terry Whalen.

Firefighters, who were assisted by Farrell volunteers, said they found heavy fire inside the wall and they were trying to figure out the source.

“It looks accidental,” Whalen said, adding that the wood-burning fireplace had been converted to natural gas.

Nicole Potase, a preschool teacher for Keystone SMILES, said, “We came in and the house was filled with smoke. There was smoke coming from the pantry.”

Mila Hiles works in the Americorps office on the bottom floor and lives in the apartment upstairs. She called 911 and got out of the house safely. No one else lives in the building.

Whalen said Hiles would be displaced, possibly to a local hotel, and the furnace shut off until the building is checked.

Americorps is a nonprofit organization, with a mostly volunteer staff. “Americorps serves the underprivileged youth and sometimes the senior building behind us,” Potase said.

The building is owned by Mercer County Housing Authority.

Joe Minto, the on-call maintenance person for the housing authority, said he would “board up the back windows, and any other window that was damaged” and other maintenance workers would assess and repair damage on Friday.