A Jim Thorpe inferno
LARRY NEFF/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Double homes in the 300 block of South Avenue, Jim Thorpe, are a mass of flames early this morning. The fire broke out during a heavy snowstorm at 306-308 South Avenue, leaving Corrine Miller, who reportedly was confined to a wheelchair, suffering severe burns.
A raging fire tore through a 2 1/2 story, twin home in Jim Thorpe early this morning and left a woman, reportedly in her 60s, badly burned.
By the time the blaze was under control two homes were destroyed, and two others had heavy damage.
Corrine "Corrie" Miller of 306 South Ave., who was in a wheelchair, was taken out of her home by a firefighter and a neighbor.
She was transported by Lehighton Ambulance to the Gnaden Huetten Campus of Blue Mountain Health System, Lehighton, then transported to Lehigh Valley Hospital Center.
The extent of her injuries weren't known by presstime.
A woman, believed to be Miller, called the Carbon County Telecommunications Center at about 3:30 a.m., stating her house was on fire and she could not escape the flames.
Police officer Lee Marzen said a firefighter living close by rushed to the scene. He and a neighbor managed to get her out of the rapidly-spreading fire. The names of the firefighter and neighbor were not known.
Miller reportedly lived on the first floor of her house because of her health condition. She resided in the house by herself.
Jim Thorpe Fire Chief William Diehm said when firefighters arrived at the scene, the building was fully involved. He said flames were coming from the roof and windows.
He said he hasn't determined how the fire started, adding that he has asked the state police fire marshal to assist in the investigation.
Miller lived on one side of the twin. The other side was occupied by Leon and Tina Diehl. Both sides were destroyed by the fire. The Miller side collapsed while firefighters were battling the fire.
Diehm said the heaviest fire, when he arrived, was on the Miller side, but the flames quickly spread. Two other houses - one on each side - caught fire but the firefighters managed to extinguish them and save the dwellings. On one side lives Dennis Balliet and his family. The other house was reportedly occupied by Helen Guyer.
Diehm said regarding the destruction that the fire caused, "It doesn't look good, but these guys (the firefighters) did a remarkable job."
The blaze happened at the height of a heavy snowstorm during which there was substantial wind. Streets had not been plowed.
Adding to the problems of the firefighters were the live electrical wires that burned off the building and fell across the street and front yard of the burning homes.
The chief said that one reason the fire didn't spread further was because of the close proximity of the fire scene to the Diligence Fire Company.
All three stations of the Jim Thorpe Fire Department responded. Other fire departments at the scene included Lehighton, Nesquehoning, Penn Forest No. 1, and the Rapid Intervention Team from Summit Hill and Lansford.
Chief of Police Joe Schatz of Jim Thorpe also talked about the intensity of the fire.
"There were very heavy flames," he explained, adding praise to the firefighters who kept it from spreading any further.
The fire was officially declared under control at about 7:45 a.m.
While the Summit Hill Fire Department was assisting at the scene, they were summoned to a dwelling fire in their borough. A dryer fire occurred at a residence at about 6:15 a.m. The Summit Hill and Lansford Fire Departments responded and quickly brought the incident under control.
Representatives from the Lehigh Valley office of the Red Cross responded to the Jim Thorpe scene. They said they are providing temporary housing to at least one of the fire victims.
(Correspondent Larry Neff contributed to this story)