NBCPhiladelphia.com - Rosemary Connors
A massive fire destroys a portion of a Delaware County mansion. It took crews hours to battle the heavy flames that were shooting through the roof of the multi-million dollar home on South Ithan Avenue in Villanova. Two people were inside the French chateau-style mansion, but made it out safely. The mansion and grounds were on the market in 2011 for $6.9 million, but neighbors say a family has been renting the property. The cause is still under investigation, but the fire marshal suspects the blaze started near the third floor and swept through the attic. It?s the same area where a fire broke out in 1978.
A large multi-million-dollar Main Line home went up in flames Wednesday afternoon.
The fire broke out around 2:45 p.m. at the nearly six-acre estate at 200 S Ithan Avenue in Villanova, Radnor Township, Pa., according to authorities.
Thick smoke could be seen coming from the blaze in the 22,000-plus-square-foot home.
“As soon as they said mansion, I knew it. 'Cause I’ve grown up here. I’ve known this place since I was in high school in the 60’s, so it’s sad” said neighbor Mary Ann Roselle.
Other neighbors told NBC10 the house is currently occupied by renters. They were apparently inside when the fire started.
“We spoke with the gardener and he was the first one to see the flames, they jetted out of the third floor window, he was outside at the time, saw the flames on the third floor” said Beverly Ornik.
“The current renters of the house were both in their second floor offices respectively, they came out because they smelled something and they asked the gardener where’s the fire?” Ornik added.
A few firefighters suffered minor injuries.
Delaware County assessed the property for nearly $2.25 million in August 2006 but the historic home, built more than 100 years ago, could be worth more.
The property is valued at nearly $5 million on Zillow.com, where the home is described as a "Marvelous Country Estate -- French Chateau designed by Horace Trumbauer is one of the last remaining grand Country Estates on the Main Line."
Other properties designed by Trumbauer include the castle at Arcadia University and parts of Philadelphia's Union League.
According to the home's property record, the three-story, single-family home was built in 1905 and includes 19 bedrooms, 12.5 bathrooms, nine fireplaces, a full basement and a pool.
Fire struck the house once before. In 1978, flames consumed a large portion of the upper level.
Jerald Batoff bought the home in 2001, according to Delaware County records.
The home was up for sale in the Fall for $6.9 million, a real estate source tells NBC10. It doesn't appear it ever sold.
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