Donations sought for fire victims

CLAYSBURG – Relatives are seeking clothes and donations after a Wednesday night fire forced a Claysburg woman and two children from their home.

Their house along Cemetery Road was seriously damaged as a fast-spreading blaze drew dozens of firefighters to the scene. Resident Phyllis Knisely escaped with her two elementary-age girls and their two pet dogs, said Stephanie Patterson, whose husband is Knisely’s nephew.

“We really don’t know how it got started,” Patterson said.

Knisely had noticed problems with her TV earlier that day, Patterson said, pointing to a possible electrical issue. A state police fire marshal is set to investigate the cause, she said.

Sometime Wednesday night, Knisely realized the house’s carpet was melting, Patterson said.

“As soon as she saw that, the fire shot up the walls,” she said.

The victims have moved in with relatives; another relative living in a nearby trailer had to move out, as he shared a now-inoperable water well with the family, Patterson noted.

Since the fire, churches and Claysburg residents have helped the family recover: Some have bought Christmas gifts for the girls, Patterson said, and others have donated food and clothes to replace what was lost.

Relatives are working to set up a relief fund for the family at First Commonwealth Bank, Patterson said.

“We’re trying to give them a Christmas they deserve to have,” she said.

Claysburg Volunteer Fire Department posted online to solicit donations, as well. Those interested in making donations can call 327-4693, they said.