Twelve people, ages 3 to 69, were left homeless after a fast-moving blaze claimed eight homes and heavily damaged three others early Saturday morning in Shenandoah.
Firefighters from Schuylkill and surrounding counties were called to the 100 block of West Coal Street and 200 block of North Jardin Street just around 3:15 a.m. after callers reported heavy flames and smoke coming from multiple homes.
"Flames were shooting out of the second floor of 34 West Coal St. It was fully engulfed," said newspaper delivery person Cindy Arias, who was one of the first to call 911.
"I then saw a woman hanging out a third floor window. Shenandoah police broke in the door, but couldn't get past the rising flames to reach her. I told her not to jump."
She jumped and landed on concrete near EMS personnel and a firefighter.
The woman, identified as Lisa Goida, 43, of 36 W. Coal St., was taken to Geisinger Medical Center in critical condition via Shenandoah EMS. Her condition was still unknown as of press time today.
Dean Tessitore, 52, also of 36 W. Coal St., was rescued by fire personnel from another third-floor window and taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation, where he was treated and released.
Police added that the fire started in the second floor middle room of 36 W. Coal St. and quickly spread to adjoining homes at 28, 30, 32, 34, 38 and 40 W. Coal St. 121 and 123 N. Jardin St. were also heavily damaged. In addition, the homes at 125 and 127 N. Jardin St. had heavy water damage.
"You're not ever going to get an exact cause," said Trooper Michael Kowalick, state police fire marshal, PA State Police fire marshal of Troop L in Reading.
Both Kowalick and Trooper Thomas Finn, another PSP fire marshal, investigated the blaze. Kowalick said the damage is extensive.
"It's just too much," said Kowalick.
He estimated damage at "several hundred thousand dollars."
Kowalick provided the following owners of the properties involved: 28 W. Coal St., Benjamin and Helene Marie Piccollo; 30 W. Coal St., Joseph and Helen Karsok; 32 W. Coal St., Kenneth Murphy Sr. and Shirley Anderson; 34 W. Coal St., Noel Sheridan and Martin Reddington Jr.; 36 W. Coal St., Matthew Neast, Jim Thorpe; 38 W. Coal St., Omar and Mayra Veras; 40 W. Coal St., Anthony Miernicki; 121 N. Jardin St., Anthony and Charles Palina and Christine Hysong; 123 N. Jardin St., Gloria Norcavage and Susan Supreme and 125 and 127 N. Jardin St., John Halford.
According to state police, Tessitore had been in the process of remodeling the lower apartment at 36 W. Coal Street.
The American Red Cross assisted the victims and firefighters at the scene.