Fire ruled accidental, likely electrical malfunction to blame
LOCUST GAP - Mount Carmel Township's fire marshal says Sunday's fire that left 11 people homeless was accidental and likely caused by an electrical malfunction.
Fire Marshal Brian Hollenbush said it was caused either by a window unit air conditioner or the power strip it was plugged into.
The fire was reported at 9:25 a.m. It ignited inside the living room of 296 Main St. and quickly spread to neighboring 294 Main St. It took 45 minutes for firefighters from three counties to bring it under control.
Left homeless were Jacob Shellhammer, 33, Melissa Savidge, 37, and their four children, Mackayla Okronglis, 13, Mya Okronglis, 12, Draco Shellhammer, 8, and Elias Shellhammer, 3, all of 296 Main St.; and John Laughlin, 53, his girlfriend, Sonia Barrera, 53, and her three grown children, Jake Timothy, Angie Timothy and Rebecca Killian, all of 294 Main St.
Both families are uninsured and are staying with relatives or friends.
A six-month-old German Shepherd/collie and a cat belonging to the Shellhammer family were killed. Another dog survived. Three dogs and a cat owned by the Laughlin family also escaped unharmed.
The home at 296 Main St. was gutted, while the residence at 294 Main St. sustained heavy fire, smoke and water damage, but could possibly be renovated.