Saturday, February 16, 2008

Outdoor Wood Stove Burns House To Ground


MAINESBURG — An outdoor wood burning stove is believed to have caused a fire Thursday morning in Sullivan Township near here that burned a home to the ground.

Mansfield Hose Company Chief Jim Welch said the fire was reported about 11 a.m. Thursday at the home of John Spencer on Windy Hill Road, a private drive off Connelly Mountain Road, about four miles from here.

About 30 firefighters responded to the two-alarm fire to find the five-bedroom, 5,300-square foot wood frame house engulfed in flames. The roof already had begun collapsing by the time the first crews arrived, he added.

Extra tankers and engines were summoned from Wellsboro, Blossburg and Daggett as well as Troy.

Welch said that, according to the homeowner, the fire started in the outdoor wood burning stove.

‘‘They said they found the fire, and by the time they got outside it was already well on its way,’’ he said. The house was a total loss, he added.

Welch said the outdoor furnace had been placed on a small deck and the previous owner had enclosed it in a small structure that was attached to the house. More from the Sun Gazette.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

St. Marys Hospital Heats With Wood

Woody biomass heating system unveiled to public at Elk Regional Health Center

ST. MARYS — It was a happy atmosphere at the Elk Regional Health Center on Monday morning when the woody biomass heating system was officially unveiled to the public.

This is the first hospital in the state to have such a system. There are several school districts already operating one, including the Kane and Clearfield area school districts.

The project was brought together by local, state and federal agencies and will help the local economy by using a local company to build the system, local haulers to bring the wood from the Allegheny National Forest. It has already started to save the hospital on their natural gas bill.

The system will use biomass, like wood chips, instead of relying completely on natural gas. The 5,600 foot facility is located at the back of the hospital and uses about 10 tons of material a day.

Greg Bauer, president/chief executive office of Elk Regional Health System, explained that the project began when the board of directors challenged management team to find ways to reduce their energy costs to allow more focus on patient care, which is their mission. He said that they had to look no further than across St. Marys to local company Advanced Recycling Equipment. The $2.3 million project to install a 16 million BTU combustion biomass energy heating system will help lower their heating bills.

“All of our hot water base-board heat, steam heat and domestic hot water is being supplied by this new biomass boiler system at a fraction of the cost of a traditional boiler system,” Bauer said.

“I hope this can be duplicated thousands of times in rural America because energy prices are going to squeeze the life out of business and home owners,” U.S. Rep. John Peterson, R-Pa., said. “I am so proud to have Advanced Recycling in my district. They are our hope for the future, utilizing other types of energy. He said that by summer, gasoline will be at $3.50 to $4 per gallon. He is extremely concerned about America’s dependency on foreign oil and feels it’s urgent that alternative energy is found.

“This is where the future lies,” he said.

Peterson added his goals for his final year in Congress are “energy for America and no tolling of I-80.”

“These projects are so important to rural America and especially rural Pennsylvania,” Gary H. Groves, state director of U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, said. “I think it’s forward thinking. We should do more of these projects. We are truly interested in improving the quality of life in rural Pennsylvania.” 

Elk Regional received a $300,000 community facility loan from USDA rural development and helped purchase and install the system. A second $1,475,000 has been awarded by rural development to fund the new maintenance building and boiler house that will accommodate the new energy heating system. Additional funding included a $500,000 grant from Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority and a $250,000 USDA Forest Service woody biomass utilization grant.