Faulty Christmas lights believed to be cause of Mahanoy City fire; children saved after jumping from porch roof, 9 homes damaged
COURTNEY DOWNEY/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Faulty Christmas tree lights started this fire in Mahanoy City Saturday morning
A fast moving fire that started from Christmas tree lights damaged nine homes on a thin one-way street in Mahanoy City Saturday morning.
Two homes on East Pine Street were destroyed, while seven other surrounding or adjacent homes were damaged by smoke, heat, or water.
A mother and her two children living at 616 East Pine Street, where the fire started, were taken to different hospitals after they were quickly rescued by firefighters. Initial firefighters had to catch the terrified children in their arms as they jumped off the high roof of their back porch.
In addition to the mother and two children, two other people were left homeless and two others are temporarily displaced.
Fire officials stated the flames started from Christmas tree lights in the 616 East Pine Street home of Kathleen McKerns and her two children, Paige Sivak, age 9, and Jason Sivak Jr, age 5. The family of three were sleeping when the flames started.
Neighbors said they heard the children screaming. Another family's home that was destroyed in the blaze was Debra and Corey Yerger, who resided next door at 618 East Pine St. Other adjacent homes damaged by smoke and water were 612 and 614 East Pine Street. Both were unoccupied. The home at 620 East Pine St. sustained little smoke damage, as well as the homes at 607 and 609 East Mahanoy Avenue.
Two other homes located directly across the street from the fire on East Pine Street were also affected by high heat and smoke. Many fire companies from surrounding communities were called to help the Mahanoy City firefighters battle the blaze.
Witnesses stated the home was almost fully engulfed when the first 911 call was made. Neighbors stated how grateful they were of the fast-acting Mahanoy City firefighters that saved the children and had the flames under control only minutes after arriving on scene.
The fire victims are being assisted by representatives of the local Schuylkill and Eastern Northumberland Red Cross Chapter. Fire officials and Red Cross representatives stress that all households should inspect their holiday lights every day, as well as turn them off when you are sleeping or not at home. The Citizens Fire Company No 2 in Mahanoy City is also helping the fire victims by taking new-toy, clothing, and monetary donations. Please mail monetary donations to Citizens Fire Company No 2, 212 West Centre Street, Mahanoy City PA 17948. Put "Dec. 19, 2009 Fire Victims" in the comment line.