A former Carbon County man who had been living in Lehigh Township, just south of Walnutport, died in a structure fire late Wednesday night, according to Northampton County officials.
Harley A. Henning, 65, died of smoke inhalation during the blaze that destroyed his two-story house located at 443 Washington Drive, according to Coroner Zachary Lysek.
The fire started prior to 11 o'clock and was reported by a neighbor. The home was fully engulfed in flames when first responders from the Lehigh Township Volunteer Fire Company arrived at the scene, according to a press release issued by the township's police department.
Police said the township firemen were joined by fire companies from Lehigh, Northampton and Carbon counties in battling the blaze, which Lehigh Township Fire Chief Rich Hildebrand described as "raging" when firemen arrived there within minutes.
Officials said Henning's body was found around 1 a.m. He appeared to have died in a second-floor bedroom, Hildebrand said. He told reporters, "When I arrived, the entire first floor area was involved in fire. I mean a heavy volume of fire, much more than we normally see. It was evident that, if anyone was in the house, it would have been far beyond their survival time."
Witnesses at the scene reported the fire was of great intensity to the degree that a neighbor's house sustained heat damage when its siding and exterior finish melted.
Firemen were hampered in their efforts because propane tanks were stored on an enclosed porch attached to the home, while live electrical wires had melted off the home and dropped to the ground.
Officials said the second floor of the residence where Henning apparently was had collapsed into the first floor because of being burned so badly.
Hildebrand said an ample supply of hydrant water was available to the help the firemen with their efforts.
Lysek, meanwhile, said a ruling on Henning's manner of death will await a complete investigation which is being headed by Township Fire Marshal Roger Spadt, state police Fire Marshal Michael Booke, township police and Lysek.
Witnesses said Henning previously lived in Carbon County, but did not specify the municipality.