Flames were seen shooting into the night sky as firefighters from multiple fire companies responded to a two-story house fire at 1340 Laurel Lane in West Penn Township, New Ringgold, just after 11 p.m. Wednesday.
"Broad flames could be seen shooting over 30 feet in the air out of two propane tanks located on the side of the home. It was something you'd see in the movies," said neighbor Scott Linkhorst, describing the fire's intensity.
Laurel Lane, a thin hillside road located off SR443 and Archery Club Road, was crowded with fire trucks, tankers and more than 1,500-feet of combined fire hose while firefighters spent almost an hour battling the fully engulfed blaze.
Some residents noted that they awoke to see their neighbor's home on fire after hearing a number of small explosions. The heat was so intense that it scorched a wide circle in the grass, as well as nearby trees.
The owners of the home, Bruce and April Banavage, recently put the home up for sale. Bruce, who lived alone at the home, was able to get out safe, along with his dog.
Awakened by the loud noises and noticing the orange glow next door, Linkhorst quickly collected his family and pets and moved to a neighbor's home. He and fellow neighbors, noticing hot embers bouncing off his roof, ran back to his home and used a garden hose to spray water over his home to prevent it from catching fire.
Portable water ponds were set up at the bottom of Laurel Lane to supply a constant flow of water to the fire. Firefighters and fire police set up a tanker refill point at the Clamtown Road and Atlas Road intersection.
Dennis Fritzinger, West Penn Fire Chief, stressed the quick response time by all the fire companies.
"All the emergency responders did a great job. Their response was fantastic," Linkhorst said. "I was so proud of all the heroic firefighters. I walked the line shaking all their hands."
Despite responding and extinguishing the fire very quickly, the home was destroyed.
Volunteers with the Schuylkill and East Northumberland chapter of the American Red Cross and Tamaqua Salvation Army were also on scene providing assistance to Banavage. Refreshments were donated and distributed by volunteers with the Tamaqua Volunteers group as well as Carnes' Clamtown Tavern and Restaurant. Two crates of tea were also donated by Fegley's Mini-Mart in Tamaqua.
Firefighters were called back to the house at 7 a.m. for a possible rekindling. Responding were firefighters, rescuers and fire police from West Penn, New Ringgold, Tamaqua, Mahoning Valley, Hometown and others.
Also responding were West Penn Police, Tamaqua Police, and ambulances from Tamaqua, West Penn, New Ringgold and Lehighton. Fire police secured the area and detoured traffic during the response. No serious injuries were reported. A State Police fire marshal was on scene today inspecting the blaze.