Investigator: Mansion blaze might have started in truck

A blaze destroyed part of a mansion in Radnor. The official cause is unknown, but an initial investigation points to the homeowner's truck catching fire while he worked on it. CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer
A blaze destroyed part of a mansion in Radnor. The official cause is unknown, but an initial investigation points to the homeowner's truck catching fire while he worked on it. CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer
Posted: July 12, 2014

A fire that damaged part of a medieval-style, custom-built Main Line mansion was under investigation Thursday as the homeowner recovered from burn injuries at a nearby hospital.

The official cause of the blaze is not yet known, but a preliminary investigation suggested the homeowner's truck caught fire while he was working on it under the portico on the side of the house.

The fire broke out just before 4:15 p.m. Wednesday at the home on the 200 block of Wyndom Lane in Radnor Township, Delaware County. The 911 call came in as a vehicle fire, said Radnor Fire Investigator Don Wood, but within moments it spread to part of the 6,200-square-foot house.

"When I arrived on the scene, the fire was extending up the walls," Wood said. "I saw the tires on the truck blow up."

The fire badly damaged the three-car garage and a bridge between the buildings, and caused some damage to part of the two-story mansion.

Property records show the home is owned by Joseph M. Montrella, a stone mason who, neighbors said, built it in 2001.

The house, which has a turret, two brick chimneys, and ornate fireplaces, has an official estimated market value of $1.4 million and is surrounded by trees, landscaping, and a small brook.

Wood said Thursday the main part of the house suffered smoke damage but remained structurally sound.

Officials said the owner was taken to Crozer-Chester Medical Center, and added that he is expected to recover.

The truck appeared to be a customized "monster truck," Wood said.

Neighbor Ed Minto said that in addition to building his own home, Montrella did the masonry on at least one neighbor's house.

"He does incredible work," Minto said. "You should see the inside."

He said that Montrella is a friendly neighbor who often takes his two young sons on dirt-biking trips, and that he always makes them wear helmets and pads.

Minto said that Montrella and his female companion also have a German shepherd, which escaped the fire and was found safe at a neighbor's house.


asteele@phillynews.com

610-313-8113

@AESteele

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