All four fire companies in Tamaqua and area communities quickly surrounded a two-home duplex located at 308-310 Railroad St., (Pleasant Row), yesterday about 10:30 a.m., as smoke emanated from the back side of the three-story structure.

Responding with Tamaqua units were fire units from Lansford and Summit Hill.

"The fire started when a tenant at 310 Pleasant Row accidentally lit insulation on fire while he was using a propane torch to melt ice that was building up on the outside of the home," Fire Chief Tom Hartz Jr. stated. "The fire quickly spread to the insulation, siding and chimney boards."

Residents Rich and Debbie Bachman of 308 Pleasant Row called 911 after smelling and seeing smoke coming from their walls. Borough police and firefighters helped evacuate Debbie, who is wheelchair-bound, from her home while emergency responders fought the rising fire next door at 310 Pleasant Row, which is owned by landlords Kerry Titus and Christine Zizlemann.

First responders on scene quickly narrowed the source of the smoke and fire to the inside back wall of 310 Pleasant Row. Firefighters had to use a cutters edge saw to cut up the outside wall of the home to reach and stop the flames from spreading.

Because of Pleasant Row's thin width, firefighters had to run water lines and fight the fire from both Pleasant Row and Washington Street.

This area has had two recent fires in the past, the first involved this same duplex in 2000, while the second fire gutted an adjacent duplex, 312-314 Pleasant Row in June of 2009.

Tamaqua ambulance also responded. No serious injuries were reported.

Fire police detoured traffic around the area during the response. Both homes sustained minor to moderate smoke and water damage.

Witnesses to the fire stated that the firefighters responded very fast and had the fire under control within minutes of the call. Hartz also pointed out his appreciation to all the businesses who employ volunteer firefighters and routinely allow their employees to respond to fires.

"The rapid response of all the firefighters saved these homes," another neighbor and witness said.