MOUNT CARMEL - An accidental fire that started in the attic of 144 N. Walnut St. Saturday afternoon left a family of four temporarily homeless, but alert action by a relative helped prevent anyone from being injured.

The 3 p.m. blaze at the residence of Scott Lubinski, 47, his wife, Nicole, 40, and their two children, Olivia, 14, and Lucas, 5, caused moderate fire, water and smoke damage to the attic area of the three-story dwelling and minor water and smoke damage to the first and second floors.

The fire was knocked down within 20 minutes, but power had to be cut by PPL to the home, which had a large hole in the roof. That forced the Lubinskis to find shelter at least overnight with family members or friends.

Scott Lubinski said his family was at a birthday party

before he returned home by himself and smelled something burning while watching television downstairs. Lubinski said he couldn't locate the source of the smell and even went outside to look around before going back into the home.

Shortly after, Lubinski said his mother-in-law, Frances Frederick, of East Center Street, Mount Carmel, which is located a few blocks from Lubinski's home, came through the back door to rescue the family's 11-year-old golden retriever because she didn't think anyone was home. Frederick was able to alert Lubinski about the fire and both of them as well as the dog were able to flee.

Neighbors and members of Mount Carmel Area Rescue Squad, who spotted smoke coming from the attic of the home while returning from a medical call on South Oak Street, had reported the fire.

Mount Carmel Fire Chief Jim Reed, who has not yet determined a cause, said, "It was a good, well-coordinated, aggressive, interior attack from the front and rear. We had the fire knocked down in about 20 minutes and the home is still livable."

Reed said a state police fire marshal has been contacted to inspect the building Monday morning to determine an exact cause.

Firefighters used a ladder truck from Anthracite Fire Company to reach the roof before later gaining access to the front and rear of the home. A large hole was cut in the roof for ventilation and to allow firefighters to gain easier access to the blaze.

Reed said the fire is believed to be accidental, but he did not have a damage estimate available Saturday night.

The Lubinskis have rented the home at the corner of North Walnut Street and East Avenue for about two years and have renter's insurance. The owner of the home, David Kraft of the Harrisburg area, also is insured.

Responding to the two-alarm call were firefighters from Anthracite, American Hose and Clover Hose companies, Atlas Fire Company, Mount Carmel Area Rescue Squad, AREA Services Ambulance, Maine Fire Company in Coal Township, Rescue and Liberty fire companies in Shamokin, Mount Carmel and Mount Carmel Township police, Shamokin Emergency Squad and members of Clover Hose Auxiliary, which provided refreshments to victims and firefighters.

The fire scene was cleared at 5 p.m.