Delaware County home destroyed in 2-alarm fire

- An investigation into what caused a deadly fire is happening in Delaware County.

Massive flames engulfed the home on Pitman Avenue February 21, trapping the 65-year-old homeowner inside.

The fire was so large it was a startling wake-up call for neighbors.

There is nothing left of the home. When firefighters arrived, the house was fully engulfed. Sadly, it was too late for the man who had lived there for years.

“All you hear was boom. Flames are all over,” said neighbor Patricia Kumah. She captured the frightening scene on her cell phone camera just after 6 a.m.

Her neighbor’s home on the 900 block of Pitmen Avenue in Collingdale consumed by flames. 

“I was very scared,” said Kumah.

With good reason. The fire raging out of control.

“Fire roaring out of every window. Every window there was just fire pouring out,” another neighbor, Collin Ball, stated.

Ball lives right across the street. He also heard a very loud bang. Then, he says, the home just erupted into a ball of fire.

“And, then when I heard another bang as I came outside, you just saw the front door, just a big gulf,” Ball explained.

Ball has lived on the block 24 years, and feared, like many neighbors, the homeowner, a retired postal worker, was trapped inside.

“I was thinking I could maybe go in and help, but it was too bad,” Ball said.

The flames so fierce, sadly, long-time resident, 65-year-old Michael Olcese, did not make it out.

It took 80 minutes to get the flames under control. Fire crews found Olcese buried in the rubble a little after 11:30 a.m.

“He was a very cool guy, very quiet and kept to himself,” Ball said.

Firefighters say this was a tough one, with part of the home collapsing as crews arrived on scene and flames shooting across the street and jumping to the house next door.

“My house was on fire, roof everything. They said you could feel the heat from that house all the way to the trolley tracks,” said next door neighbor Ray Macatee.

Macatee was driving his wife to the train station when he got the news. This is the second time he’s lost everything to fire. Back in 1985, his apartment went up in flames.

“Once you go through it, it’s like it doesn’t leave you. Just like the first time, got nothing, but we go on,” Macatee said.

But, they have their lives. 

Olcese’s family did not want to talk on camera but had an important message. They say there were no working smoke detectors in the home. They are urging everyone in the wake of their horrible loss to check and make sure their smoke detectors work.
 

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