Workers replacing siding on the home of Neil Dorshimer early Friday afternoon in the Union Hill section of Franklin Township were among the first to notice smoke pouring from the four-room house across the street.
"They pounded on a window and informed us that the place across the street was on fire," said Dorshimer, who lives at at 321 Held St. "They said it was really burning."
The workers, from Russell Muffley Construction Company, were replacing siding on Dorshimer's home which recently received major storm damage.
Dorshimer, along with another neighbor, Bruce Strausberger, were the first to call 9-1-1 to report the fire.The home, a cement block ranch-style structure was filled with thick black smoke.
The owners of the burned property at 314 Held St. are Jason and Amy McArdle. They live in the home bordering Held Street, while the second structure on the lot which burned borders the alleyway behind the homes.
The home is a rental property for the McArdles. The residents of the home were away when the fire started and none of the neighbors knew the couple's name. A spokesman for Riverwalck Saloon in Parryville, however, where the female resident is reportedly employed, noted that she lived in the home with her boyfriend. The spokesman also said the woman has family living in the area and planned to stay temporarily with her mother.
Firefighters from Franklin Township and Lehighton had the fire out within minutes, but Franklin Township Fire Chief Bruce Wolfe said that the interior of the home was completely destroyed.
"The fire was actually burning itself out because it had no oxygen," said Wolfe. "The fire never had air to burn."
Still, the first firefighters to enter the building proceded with caution.
"We have to be careful," said Wolfe. "It's about 89 degrees out here, but inside the building it was well over 1,000 degrees."
He said that firefighters at the scene were all over 40 years old.
"We have aging firefighters," he said. "We're all older."
Strausberger said that the couple did have a dog. Firefighters searched the structure for the dog before they learned from her employer that the dog was with its owners.
Cause of the blaze was unknown, and the fire marshal was called in to investigate.