Fire destroys home of Howard insurance agent

SHANNON ALLISON/FOR THE EXPRESS This home at 198 Park Road, Howard Township, was destroyed by fire Wednesday night.

HOWARD — Dozens of firefighters from fire companies in Clinton and Centre counties responded to a fire Wednesday night that destroyed the home of Trudy and Robert DeArment Jr. at 198 Park Road, Howard Township.

Robert, the owner of Insurance Office Inc. in Howard, told co-workers it was about 11 p.m. when he and his wife were awakened by what sounded like an explosion.

He said he quickly pulled on a pair of jeans and went to investigate; his wife stayed in bed.

As he walked outside, Robert said the garage was all aglow … there were flames everywhere.

“He ran back into the house and told his wife they had to get out. She grabbed their two little dogs. They had to crawl out… on their hands and knees across the floor … the ceiling was on fire,” said office worker Tammy Coakley, repeating Robert’s words.

“They lost everything,” Tammy said.

“Bob has a pair of jeans. Trudy has a nightgown and they have the two dogs. That’s all,” Tammy continued. “Bob came to the office first thing in the morning to get a spare pair of glasses,” Tammy continued.

She said two cats perished in the fire.

A fire marshal was at the scene Thursday morning and told the couple he believes the fire started in the garage, but the exact cause is not known.

And an insurance adjuster is expected today.

Bob said the explosion sounded like a car or truck had plowed into the house.

There were several vehicles, a lawn tractor, a freezer and refrigerator and other items in the garage. All were destroyed, Tammy said. A camper parked beside the garage also was destroyed, she said.

Firefighters returned to the scene to douse flare-ups several times on Thursday.

Although the couple is distraught and not sure what their next step will be, they are assuring everyone that they were not injured and don’t need anything.

“That’s what they want everyone to know. They are staying with Bob’s parents, Bob and Shirley DeArment, and are doing okay,” Tammy said. “They just want to take some time and think about what’s next.”

Howard Fire Chief Collin Alterio could not be reached by press time.