Flames gut Derry home; firefighter taken to hospital

DERRY, Pa. — Firefighters are crediting smoke detectors for saving the lives of 7 people from a Derry Township home.

“We had smoke alarms trigger, the dad woke up and when the second floor started sounding and heard yelling, he then started their evacuation,” said John Patrick, Derry Fire Department Assistant Chief.

The home, built more than 150 years ago, was a former railroad house.

Firefighters believe the building’s electrical wiring caused the fire.

“We had heavy fire on the left side of the rear of the structure, the one vehicle was already starting to light off,” said Patrick.

The homeowner, Jeremiah Thomas and 6 of his 8 children escaped along with two dogs.

The fire, is just another hurdle for the Thomas family. Jeremiah is a cancer survivor and a widower.

His wife of 20 years died just 2 years ago from health complications, leaving him to raise his 6 youngest kids, alone.

Now a fire has destroyed the only home most of them have ever known.

Firefighters were called back briefly this afternoon to contend with some smoke seeping from the attic window.

“We had a lot of residual because of that blow in; we thought we had it so it was probably another spot charring with that blown insulation,” said Thomas.

The Thomas family still needs a vehicle and a more permanent place to stay.

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