Two families, including a 5-day old infant, were displaced yesterday in Packer Township after a fire damaged their duplex home along Packer Drive. One of the residents called 911 after seeing dark smoke coming from the ceiling and walls of the home.
The fire, located at 62A and 62B Packer Drive, was the second of two fires for homeowners John "Jack" and Jean Galvin, whose home at 28 Packer Drive, located next door to yesterday's fire, was destroyed during a blaze on Oct. 28. They have been living in a one-bedroom apartment in Hazleton since the October fire. That fire began in an attached garage and spread to Galvin's ranch-style home.
Though the official ruling on that fire was not released to the media, firefighters believed the fire was accidental and might have started around the trash in the garage.
Galvin, who stated he owned the duplex for 25 years, said his daughter Kristin, son-in-law Alan and their 5-day-old son and 2-year-old daughter lived in 62A, while Jason Searfoss, his girlfriend, and their two kids rented out 62B.
He added that both homes are insured.
A firefighter, who was seen carrying out an aquarium containing a snake, said that a cat is still missing.
Both units suffered fire, smoke and water damage primarily to the upper two floors.
"It was a very smoky fire," said Weatherly Citizen's Fire Chief Donald Weston.
He added that firefighters had the fire under control in less than 15 minutes.
Weston added that no injuries were reported and all the residents were out of the home when firefighters arrived.
Firefighters could be seen removing windows and cutting holes in the roof of the duplex, which is located only a few feet west of the Weatherly line.
Responding were firefighters from Weatherly, Lehigh and Lausanne, Freeland, White Haven, Tresckow, West Hazleton, Quakake, Hazle Township, Hometown and others. Also responding were Weatherly Ambulance and police.
The Hazleton American Red Cross was notified and offered services to both families. In a press release, the Red Cross chapter said it provided all fire victims with food and clothing. Some of the victims were provided temporary shelter, while others opted to stay with family members.
In addition to these two fires, a fire claimed a large storage structure less than half a mile away, on Nov. 17.
Fire police volunteers closed Packer Drive around the scene for the duration of the fire. A Pennsylvania State Police fire marshal is expected to be on scene today, researching the cause and origin of the fire.