ELYSBURG - A fire of undetermined origin swept through the basement of a single frame home at 135 S. Market St. early Tuesday, generating what one official said was enough heat to melt the solder of a water pipe.

Nine exotic birds, all parrots, were among 13 pets that survived the fire that left two men homeless, fire officials said. One of the men, Curtis Mays, 62, who has several health issues, was taken to Geisinger Medical Center, Danville, for observation. The other occupant, Jack Scott, 64, escaped injury.

The fire broke out shortly before 3 a.m., filling the one and one-half story home with dense smoke that awakened both occupants. Mays called 911 and within minutes, Ralpho police and firefighters from Elysburg and Overlook were on the scene. Followup calls from the communication center brought responses from units from Stonington, Coal Township and Shamokin City. Firefighters under the command of Harvey Boyer and Clint Herr were in service until 4:45 a.m.

Several firefighters donned air packs to enter the structure and pinpointed the location of the fire in the basement.

"It was hot," said Herr. "It melted solder from one of the pipes flushing out water that I think helped to control the spread of the fire."

"There was heavy black smoke pouring out the front door and windows when I arrived," said Corporal Brian Chowka of the Ralpho Township Police Department, who was first on the scene. "Mays was outside and attempted to go back into the house to rescue what he called 'his birds.' He abandoned the effort because of the heavy smoke."

The dwelling is on the eastside of Market Street, between Center Street and Valley Avenue. Scott said the two men have occupied the home since 2005.

Cages containing some of the birds were carried from the dwelling. It appeared some of the parrots, all described as very expensive, were overcome, but responded when they reached open air.

Scott said Mays was hospitalized last week for a health issue. He was given oxygen therapy at the scene by Elysburg EMTs and ambulance personnel and then taken to the hospital for further observation and treatment of possible smoke inhalation.

Danny Kessler, a neighbor, said his family was awakened by smoke and when he went outside, he saw Mays and Scott had already exited the house.

Because of smoke and water damage, Boyer said the two men will not be able to reside in the structure. They will take temporary residence in Kessler's home.

Air extraction fans were placed in service to remove most of the smoke from the building. Boyer said the fire is under investigation until a cause is determined. He did not indicate whether a state police fire marshal would assist.