Heroic fire victim: Larry Darrohn died trying to save neighbor
The second victim of a tragic fire in Jim Thorpe yesterday morning was identified as Larry Darrohn Jr., age 46.
Darrohn died while trying to save his neighbor, Sharon Joseph, 63, who lived in the second floor apartment. Joseph also died in the blaze.
Officials didn't release the name of Darrohn until yesterday afternoon after family members were notified.
The alarm for the fire was called in at 2:22 a.m. for 119 North Street, on the Heights section of the community. Darrohn, a Marine Corps veteran, lived on the first floor.
According to investigators, Joseph's daughter, Erin, 39, who lived on the second floor with her mother, raced downstairs when the fire occurred and sought the help of Darrohn.
Darrohn, who is a volunteer with Care Net, an agency which helps young families, went upstairs but was apparently overcome by the smoke. He was found unconscious in a hallway.
Sharon Joseph was found in a bathroom, according to a deputy coroner.
Jim Thorpe Fire Chief William Diehm said firefighters took the two victims out of the building and onto a second floor porch where they proceeded to administer CPR.
They then passed the two victims to ambulance personnel.
Both were pronounced dead at the scene by Carbon County Coroner Bruce Nalesnik.
Their bodies were transported to Lehigh Valley Hospital where postmortems are scheduled on Sunday.
An investigation by a state police fire marshal indicates the fire started in a trash can on the second floor where there had apparently been a cigarette discarded.
Diehm wonders aloud if working smoke detectors might have saved the lives of the two individuals. The investigation revealed that there was a smoke detector but the battery had been removed from it.
"I don't understand why people don't go out and buy $5 smoke alarms," said Diehm. "I stress that a smoke alarm in the home is your first line of defense during a fire."
Erin Joseph reportedly declined to accept medical treatment at the scene.
Her mother was a former president of the Jim Thorpe Area School Board. She had served on the school board for 14 years: from 1985 to 1997.
During that span, she served two terms as president.
She also has been active in the Olympian Booster Club, the Dimmick Memorial Library and the Jim Thorpe Chamber of Commerce.
Darrohn was a member of Cross Roads Community Church of Lehighton and was a Care Net volunteer.
He is a son of Larry Darrohn Sr. and Barbara (Craig) Darrohn, both of Lansford. He has two children - a daughter, Naomi Marie Darrohn of Lansford and a son, Andrew C. Darrohn of Easton.
His obituary appears on page 4.
The fire happened just three blocks from another devastating blaze which occurred 47 hours earlier and left a woman severely burned.
The fire at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday destroyed the homes at 306-308 South Avenue. Injured in the fire was Corrine "Corrie" Miller, 58, who was confined to a wheelchair and was rescued by a neighbor and a firefighter (see story on page 2).
Her neighbors, Leon and Tina Diehl, escaped without injury.
Two other houses sustained damages.
Wednesday's fire was fought at the height of a windy snowstorm. With several inches of new-fallen snow, it may have delayed some firefighters.
Yesterday's blaze was battled in temperatures in the lower double-digits.
Responding to both fires were personnel from the Jim Thorpe, Lehighton, Penn Forest Township, Nesquehoning, Lansford, and Summit Hill Fire Departments.
Diehm heaped praise on the firefighters. "They did an excellent job (yesterday), just like the previous fire," he said.
He thanked the volunteers from neighboring communities who provided mutual aid, stating, "None of the fires like this today can be fought by just one fire company," noting that a decrease in the number of volunteers has forced mutual aid responses to be the norm.