Firefighters in northern York County ended up battling a blaze at a townhouse belonging to one of their own on Thursday.

The home where a Fairview Township volunteer firefighter lived with his family in the first block of White Dogwood Drive in Newberry Township caught fire about 3 p.m., sending first responders from the township and the surrounding area to the scene, said Newberry Township Fire Chief Gary Hatterer Jr.

"It's kind of unusual to be helping one of your own," the chief said. "He (the firefighter) helps people every day."

A daughter of the firefighter is a junior firefighter with Fairview Township,he said.

"Our thoughts are out to our fellow brother and sister," he said.

The fire: Crews arrived on scene to find smoke pouring from the front eave of the roof and from a dryer vent, Hatter said.

Firefighters made an aggressive attack on the flames but one firefighter had a close call when he went through a burned-out first floor and fell partially into the basement.

"Fortunately there was a shelving unit to give him footing," Hatterer said, adding nearby firefighters pulled the downed firefighter to safety.

That firefighter, as well as a second one who had a heat-related problem, were checked out on the scene but were not taken to a hospital, the chief said.

Crews had the fire out in about 45 minutes, Hatterer said, but a cat and a hamster died in the blaze.


Cause: The fire appears to have started in the dryer vent system and spread into other parts of the home. The quick work of firefighters and fire walls prevented flames from spreading to neighboring townhouses, he said.

A state police marshal will investigate to confirm the cause.

The house isn't a total loss, but Hatterer said there is major structural damage. He estimated damage at $200,000, the high end of the spectrum.

The family of five — two adults and three children — that lives in the house was away at the time of the blaze. They were going on vacation but returned home and are being helped by friends and family.

The York-Adams Chapter of the American Red Cross is assisting the family with food, clothing and other disaster needs, according to a Red Cross news release.

— Reach Greg Gross at