A fundraiser is underway to help the family of a Williams Valley School District teacher whose Tower City home was destroyed by fire Friday.
So far, the 50/50 raffle has raised $3,800. The money will be split between the winner and the family.
The raffle was started by Brian Leiter, president of the Muir Volunteer Fire Company, shortly after the fire at the home of teacher Susan Diegert and her husband, Gary, who lived at 31 E. Grand Ave. The blaze also caused smoke, heat and water damage to 27 E. Grand Ave. and 35 E. Grand Ave.
“I’m just glad we can do something on her behalf in her time of need,” Leiter said.
Chances for the raffle can be bought for $5 on the MVFC Online Fundraising Facebook page. It concludes at 11 p.m. Dec. 5. The winner will be drawn at 7 p.m. Dec. 6.
“Please keep her and her family in your thoughts and prayers during this most difficult time,” a Facebook post for the raffle reads.
Diegert was Leiter’s fifth-grade teacher. He remembers her as “very caring and always willing to help her students.”
John Mika, former president of the Williams Valley school board, described Diegert as someone who worked tirelessly with her students in the elementary school.
Tower City Fire Chief Michael Keiter said the three-alarm fire caused extensive damage to 31 E. Grand Ave.
“I would say the house is a total loss,” he said.
The fire is still under investigation, Keiter said, but he is leaning toward ruling it accidental. A state police fire marshal from Reading was called in to investigate.
“We do believe it started on the first floor,” Keiter said.
The Diegerts were home at the time of the fire and called 911. They escaped with their dog.
“We had a pretty aggressive attack and knocked it down pretty quick,” the chief said.
Two firefighters, one from Tower City, the other from Muir, fell through the floor but are OK, Keiter said. Both were evaluated by EMS on scene.
Keiter said most of the damage to the neighboring properties was to the exterior.
John Keiter, who lives at 27 E. Grand Ave., is the father of the Tower City fire chief, and Tony and Jan Mione, who live at 35 E. Grand Ave., are in-laws of Orwin’s fire chief, Eric Schwalm, Keiter said.
Pine Grove fire
Firefighters battled another fire Sunday night at 112 Robin Road in Pine Grove Township It started as a chimney fire and spread to the roof. However, it was contained about 15 minutes after firefighters arrived.
Brad Zimmerman, chief of Pine Grove Township Ravine Fire Company, described the damage as moderate to major for the 1½ story home. He estimated the damage could be $75,000.
Zimmerman did not know the name of the homeowner but said they were displaced and staying at a nearby home.
Source: Berkshire mont