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Article published January 6, 2013
2 escape fire at Penn Twp farmhouse
PENN TWP — An elderly woman in a wheelchair and her nurse caretaker escaped a fire Saturday night that minutes later engulfed a farmhouse, authorities said. Dozens of firefighters from seven departments battled for hours the massive blaze at 345 Brownsdale Road that apparently started shortly before 9 p.m. in the basement. No one was hurt, but the two-story home was gutted. The brick and cement block house painted white has been home to 88-year-old Ann Weir for more than five decades. She and her late husband, Edgar, bought it in the 1950s. Weir, who needs a walker and sometimes a wheelchair to get around because of health problems, has been forced to live downstairs in recent years, say friends and neighbors. That might have saved her from injury or worse Saturday night, authorities said. Caretaker Rhonda Tyson also was at the house and is credited with helping to rescue Weir. Once she noticed smoke, authorities said, she got Weir into a wheelchair and wheeled her onto a back porch, away from the fire. “Firefighters from there picked her up by the wheelchair and took her out,” said Rodney Myers, who has cared for Weir’s property for more than 20 year. Weir was taken to Butler Memorial Hospital to be checked out. She later was released. “Mrs. Weir is doing good,” Myers said Sunday. He said that for now she is staying at Tyson’s home in Mount Chestnut. The blaze is believed to be accidental. It started in the basement, where there is an oil furnace.