The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

State News

July 5, 2013

State in brief 7/6/2013

Apartment complex destroyed by fire

STATE COLLEGE – A fire destroyed a 19-unit apartment building in State College, leaving about 40 people without a home.

Firefighters rescued two people from a balcony during the fire, which began about 8 p.m. Thursday. No injuries were reported, but not all residents are accounted for, said Alpha Fire Company Chief Jeff Martin.

Walter Jackson and his wife, young daughter and niece were at home when the fire began and escaped with only the clothes on their backs.

“I smelled smoke and two seconds later the alarm went off,” Jackson told the Centre Daily Times. “My wife thought it wasn’t serious, but I looked outside and smoke was coming out of the top-floor window. I ran in and got them out and literally, as we were running out in under a minute, the whole thing went up. The whole roof was on fire.”

Officials said about 40 firefighters fought the blaze, which is still being investigated.

At least three hurt at fireworks show

APOLLO – A fireworks company “deeply regrets” that at least three spectators were hurt during a Fourth of July display at a high school football field by what witnesses say was an exploding shell, although a spokesman said it’s not clear how they were injured.

“At this point, we really don’t know what happened,” Stephen Vitale, a spokesman for New Castle-based Pyrotecnico, said Friday. “There were no detonations, no malfunctions as reported by the crew. We had no reports from the crew of any faulty product.”

The company acknowledged there were injuries at Owens Field in the Apollo-Ridge School District where the shell reportedly exploded near some spectators.

Lisa Culp of Kiski Township, said her 14-year-old daughter had to be treated for second-degree burns to her legs and at least two other children were hit by debris from the exploding shell, the Valley News Dispatch of Tarentum reported.

Death toll rises to 6 in Lancaster fire

LANCASTER – A mother and her daughter died of injuries suffered in a house fire, bringing the toll in the Fourth of July blaze to six, authorities said Friday.

Crystal Kuhns died at 7:30 a.m. Friday and her daughter Mickey died at 6 p.m. Thursday, a spokesman for Crozer Chester Medical Center said. Two-year-old Kordell Kuhns remained in critical condition at the hospital outside Philadelphia, spokesman Grant Gegwich said.

The fire started in the kitchen of a three-story Lancaster duplex at about 3 a.m. Thursday after frozen potatoes were left in the oven, fire officials said. Authorities said two men and two other children also died.

Fourteen members of several families lived in the home, which did not have smoke detectors, fire Chief Timothy Gregg said.

Swastika burned into family’s yard

SARVER – A swastika burned into a Butler County family’s yard has prompted a police and FBI investigation.

John Namey said his family woke up Thursday morning and saw the swastika. Namey said he was not sure why the family was targeted, but that his daughter is gay and has been threatened with violence in the past. Namey said the family isn’t Jewish.

“I have a 16-year-old daughter who is openly gay, and is proud, and we are proud of her,” Namey told KDKA-TV. He also said that his stepson’s car was vandalized and covered in pink paint this week.

Namey told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that his daughter has been the subject of repeated bullying because of her sexual orientation.

He said the bullying started to become a problem when she came out about three years ago and it got so bad that she became uncomfortable riding the bus to school.

Agent fired over vermin allegations

LOWER MERION – An attorney for a suburban Philadelphia real estate agent facing accusations in connection with dead animal carcasses thrown at a neighbor’s home said she has been fired. reported that 34-year-old Andrea Straub’s position with Prudential Fox & Roach was terminated Wednesday.

That’s according to her attorney, George Bochetto.

Straub and her husband, Jonathan, are accused of disorderly conduct and harassment. Authorities allege surveillance video implicates them in a scheme to hamper the sale of the neighbor’s million-dollar home in Lower Merion. Police said the video shows someone tossing dead mice and snakes on the driveway.

The Straubs and their neighbor both had their homes up for sale at the time.

The couple’s attorneys said they’re upstanding people who will fight the charges. Bochetto said they’re victims of “horrible falsities.”


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