One less property to deal with

A fire destroyed a blighted house at a property in Pine Grove Township early Monday morning.

Russell volunteer firefighters responded to the fire at approximately 3 a.m. Tuesday and found the house already largely collapsed.

Russell Fire Chief Dave Schwanke said the structure was still standing when the call to 911 was placed, but was, “pretty much on the ground”, when firefighters arrived on scene.

“It went fast,” he said. “In probably under ten minutes it was on the ground.”

The Pennsylvania State Police fire marshal investigated the cause of the blaze early Tuesday.

Schwanke said the cause of the fire has not been determined.

The property at 102 Cottage Place, known as the Passinger property, had no utilities and was abandoned. It had been on the radar of groups dealing with county blight for some time and was on the agenda for the Warren County Redevelopment Authority’s meeting on Tuesday morning.

There were no utilities hooked up to the building.

The property was only recently acquired at tax sale by Mark Saulo, giving the authority and the county’s blighted property committee hope that there would be action on alleviation of blight at the site.

Ironically, at the December meeting of the authority, it was reported that paperwork was being completed to allow the Russell Volunteer Fire Department to burn the building for training purposes.

Russell was the primary responder at the scene and during the more than four hours spent at the site, the department was assisted by North Warren, Lander and Scandia volunteer firefighters.

No injuries were reported.