Robeson house destroyed by fire; 'Within minutes, it was just in flames'

House destroyed by fire; 'It was just in flames'

ROBESON TWP., Pa. - A house fire that leveled a home and killed three dogs in Berks County has been ruled an accident, fire officials said Monday.

Flames engulfed the home in the 400 block of Weaver Road in Robeson Township on Sunday afternoon. The fire started on the second floor in the area of the chimney, said officials.

"A home can be replaced, but you can't replace your family or an animal," cried Diane Stoudt, whose home burnt to the ground.

The state police fire marshal sifted through the rubble Monday as Stoudt and her loved ones looked on.

Tears rolled down her cheeks as she thought of her three dogs: Angel, Boo-boo and Sweet Pea, who were killed in the fire.

"My son was able to save his dog down in the basement, but my daughter and my son tried to save my dogs, but it was too late. It was too smokey," said Stoudt, who was at work Sunday afternoon when she got the call.

Stoudt's son was in the basement and her daughter was upstairs when she heard a loud explosion.

"It was instant and within minutes, it was just in flames," said Lori Simpson, Stoudt's cousin, who saw the smoke from down the street.

Firefighters from multiple companies fought against the flames as smoke billowed out from the roof. Now, it's an empty shell. The home was turned into splinters, but the community is helping the family pick up the pieces.

"There are so many people reaching out, and we're getting calls like crazy," said Simpson.

Stoudt said she is thankful for everyone's help and support, and right now her family is working to get back on its feet.

"I don't know if I can live there again and rebuild a house, but we'll build here or somewhere else," said Stoudt.    

Damage is estimated at nearly $400,000. The fire marshal said the cause could have been electrical, but it is unclear.

The Red Cross is assisting the family members with food and clothing, and right now they're staying with relatives.

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